Obsessed with Obsession

My head is buzzing with ideas. I’ve been thinking a lot about Christian Boltanski, Ann Hamilton, and Mike Kelley, and how their work has an obsessive nature to it, and how my work does, too. Looking back on my work from undergrad, I was obsessed with my childhood home. I made many bodies of work about it, and each body of work was a series. My brain can’t help but work in multiples, and I have so many ideas, obsession just makes sense.

Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, Mike Kelley

City 0000, Mike Kelley

I’m obsessed with obsession.

Right now I have ideas for pieces, and each piece is going to take a lot of time and collecting. These past two weeks I’ve been gathering VHS tapes of movies about bears, and CRT TVs. I’m working on collecting more TVs as well, and then collecting teddy bears. Thing is though, I’m a photographer, so I’m constantly thinking about the relationship of photography to these objects that will be a part of the piece. I’ll be making videos to play on the CRT TVs, but the combination of the TVs, the VHS tapes, the carpet, etc is an installation. I’m starting to play with the idea of fully immersing my viewer in my content, because what I think I want to do is illicit empathy.

Maybe I’m not trying to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse or PTSD. Thing is, people don’t want to talk about this stuff because it’s so painful to think about. But if my art can make them allow themselves to feel something, maybe we can move towards a more open dialogue about this topic. Maybe that’s what I’m after. I’m still figuring it out, but I think I’m getting there.

Another thing I did this week was revisit my self portraits exploring PTSD. I created a few new ones, one digital collage and two that I physically altered. I used a fun little magic trick I learned in fifth grade to create a sort of oil-slick effect, and for another I used a lot of bleach (I can smell it on my hands and no matter how much soap I use, it won’t go away.) For an experiment, I used way too much bleach and failed to rinse it off my print, and I hung it up to dry. When I came back later, the print was gone– the paper was still hanging up, but it was blank. My self portrait was in little flakes on the floor. And, like a true artist, I thought “Maybe I can replicate this and record the ink flaking off the paper?” So typical.

It’s Hard to Explain: Medicated

My plans for the next few weeks are to keep collecting, get in the dark room to expose some images on razor blades, and soak up whatever critique I get this week and from Zanele Muholi next week. Happy Shooting!


1 thought on “Obsessed with Obsession

  1. Ah! Zanele Muholi! A great South African artist! Love Ann Hamilton’s work. Unfamiliar with the ther artists you mentioned and will look them up. The bleached self portrait lying on the floor – what a metaphor for PTSD. And the other stuff you mentioned. Yes, sometimes the pain is too much for speech.

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