Agh! Those Personal/Professional Boxes Again!

Hi there!  It’s been an age since I’ve posted here.  A totally inexcusable lapse on my part, but I hope you’ll forgive me… This blog had to be placed extremely low on my priorities list in the last 6 months.  So low that it stop existing.  Sorry about that.  I promise I will be a better blogger in the future.  Would it make you feel better if I told you that I’ve been trying to write this post for going on 3 months now?  No?  Well, it was worth a shot…

From here on out however, this blog is going to be much less about studio happenings, and more about the personal side of my artings and life.  Never fear, there will still be studio updates… They’re just going to be taking place over at a blog hosted on my professional website.  While my life does inform my work a great deal, I’m making an effort to separate my personal and professional life as much as possible… You know,  job hunting and such might be hindered by a blog about what an anxiety ridden person I am.  Or potential employers discovering how incompetent I really am…

Of course, a lot of things have happened since the last time I posted about the clock ticking for me and my thesis.  I had to produce both my written thesis and my MFA thesis show, my marriage fell apart and eventually ended, I applied for an obscene number of jobs (and got none of them) I graduated, I moved, I had an accident, I dyed my hair pink again, I attended a SHIT ton of therapy…  Basically all of the things had to be taken care of at the same time when all I really wanted to do was to curl up in the fetal position under the covers and cry… and maybe sleep.  Basically January through May was the most miserable time of my life (second only to my time spent in Erie PA).  But that’s OK.  Shit has to happen.

So here I find myself, with my terminal degree, still in Tallahassee, and no idea of what the future holds for me.  But you know what?  I’m actually really comfortable with that idea.  I’ve spent much of the last several years obsessing over the future, and planning things, and being terrified of what was going to happen.  I’m tired of that.  I just want to enjoy the life that I’ve fought so hard to have, even if it means I’m not exactly where I want to be in my career or personal life.  My new philosophy is:  “Why not?  What’s the worst that could happen?”  Because, let’s be honest, I’ve already survived what I thought would be the worst things in my life.  Let’s fly by the seat of our pants for awhile, shall we?

It’s the intersection of those two things though, personal and professional, that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about… Because I’m fairly certain that it played a huge role in the destruction of my marriage.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there were a number of other factors that helped bring that relationship down, and I am certainly glad it is over, but, I think that you should learn from your mistakes and walk away a better, stronger person.  So, I think about these things.  A committee member of mine at FSU has this thing about Personal and Professional boxes, and how they never quite sync up.  Either things are going fantastically in one and not the other, or both are kind of mediocre.  In my head, I kind of scoffed at this when he first talked about it in a class… But, I feel like I’ve been in that latter category for the last 6 or so months… My thesis was created at the expense of my divorce, which resulted in some pretty lackluster work, and my life in general was a mess for quite awhile.  As I move forward, I think about these boxes being at odds with one another… Meaning that I can’t have both a successful professional life as well as a successful personal life.

Now, I’m not interested in having a “woe is me” moment here.  I made some decisions, some turned out badly, some are great, others have yet to reveal their consequences.  But, to reel this line of thought back into what I was originally saying; I feel as if my personal and professional desires are often in conflict with one another.  In the context of the relationship with my ex, I wanted to have that marriage, as well as my career… I wanted to start a family, he wanted to focus grad school…  I’m starting to feel there is no way to win.  That, perhaps, we cannot “have it all” as the feminists would say.

As I’ve returned to dating, and have been forced to rethink my plans for the artistic/academic career I want, these things haunt me.  It’s all very convoluted though.  It’s not just that I want a career and a personal life.  It’s that I’m an artist, who very much wants to be in academia.  To put it rather bluntly, there are a fuck-ton of artists with MFAs out there, while there is an inversely disproportionate number of university teaching positions.  This is because becoming a professor is one of the few ways that artists can both be guaranteed a regular paycheck and get various types of support for their artistic research.  Once you get tenure, no one wants to leave that kind of security!  Shit, son.  I want that type of security.

In any event, this means that there are few open positions, and the ones that are available, can have the highest requirements in terms of experience  and knowledge base, and no one will blink an eye or call foul.  With hundreds of people applying for a single position, why not be choosy?!  Most of the photography teaching positions I was gunning for “preferred” anywhere between 3-5 years of teaching experience not including teaching experience accumulated while in graduate school.  This is frustrating, because it basically precludes my applications to a VAST majority of the positions available.

Then, how to get those years of teaching experience so that the search committees don’t just laugh and throw out my applications?  Well, a combination of adjunct positions and visiting professorships (although, most of the visiting/short term gigs seem to require just as much experience as the permanent ones).  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of adjuncting… Basically it means that you are contracted to a university, semester to semester, paid a flat rate for each course you teach, and have no job security, much less benefits or things of that nature.  Both of these options are depressing to me.  One means I scrounge around where ever I’m living, hoping that I can piece together a living through adjuncting and some other type of job.  (Because, come on, who is going to relocate for a job that has no guarantee of being there when you arrive?)  The other equates to me being a nomad for several years (should I be lucky enough to get any of those jobs).

To me, all of this seems to make having a personal life impossible.  If I’m constantly moving around, then how the heck can I build a long term relationship, much less start a family, with out having to ask my partner to sacrifice what they want while I do what I want?  Or, conversely, I could compromise, and stay put some place where there is a possibility of adjunct work, but have no promise of work from semester to semester, much less financial stability.  But then, what happens once I’ve found a full time job and have to move for reals?  It makes me want to give up on the idea of a career in academia.

Then I wonder what I would do, as an artist if I decided not to go into the university system.  I want to teach, I do.  I sincerely enjoy it.  Then maybe I teach high school? (I have, by the way, applied for a certificate of eligibility to do so.)  But teaching high school, you have no support for your artistic career.  You’re not going to get sabbaticals, have the opportunity to apply for research grants, or have access to various facilities needed.  And, from my perspective, you’re not going to get to teach the things you’re most interested in, or work with the level of students you’d like to… But, you’d have a guaranteed paycheck, you don’t have to be nomadic, and you still get to teach… and maybe make art in a spare minute or two at night… If you have some extra cash laying around…

Conversely, I could just say fuck it to my career for a period of time, take a job doing whatever, start a family, and enjoy that aspect of what I want in life, then try in the future to go after the academic career.  This seems like a terrible idea though… Imagine, sitting in an interview, being asked why you got your terminal degree in 2o14, but did nothing with it until many years later.  Something tells me “Oh, I wanted to settle down with my partner and pop out some kids” would probably not be a widely accepted answer.  I also live in terror of doing this and then never actually reclaiming my career.

Anyway… Now I’m just ranting.  Basically, it seems to me that myself and my fellow academically oriented artists are in a bind.  There are not good options.  And that makes me sad.  While I realize that I can make whatever I want happen in my life, the process seems rather grim.  And I think I make this all the more difficult on myself because I don’t want to move anywhere there is a possibility of snow…

 

 

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I MAKE AAAAARRRRTTTTT!

I haven’t actually posted anything about my art recently.  I lot of random pictures…and frustration, but no art.  If you actually follow this and like to hear about my art, sorry about that.  But rest assured, I have been CRAZY busy with a million things… Here’s a list of some of them:

*I shot A TON of video

*I did a performance

*Turned that performance in to a video piece

*Worked on some of the photos I posted up here awhile back

*I applied for a scholarship to attend the SPE conference in Chicago in March

*I submitted my work to 3 shows

*Helped to write a proposal to get Working Method Contemporary into FOUNTAIN ART FAIR/Started planning for WMC’s trip to Fountain

*Managed to fill up my entire 750 GB laptop hard drive with video files and had to panickedly run to the store to buy a 3 TB external hard drive to get the files OFF of my computer so I could use it.

*I flooded the MFA warehouse (during my panicked run to the store)

*Read books about Failure and Control and Perfection

*I nervously watched the election results

*I DIDN’T clean my house

*I cooked AMAZING butternut squash mac and cheese

*I got to be a unicorn

*Cleaned my studio

I’m sure that there was more than that, because that doesn’t seem like very much.  But rest assured I did stuff, I’ve just forgotten most of it.  Which reminds me… I need to send a link to this crazy shindig of a blog to my committee.  HI GUYS!

My other excuse for not posting the stuff I’ve been working on recently is that it takes FOREVER to export them from Final Cut to a QuickTime file (anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 or 5 hours), and then another FOREVER to upload them from the hard drive to youtube.  4,834 minutes (according to youtube) to upload a 4 minute QuickTime?!  Come on now The Internet, you can do better than that.  So I’m trying a different upload method this time, but the videos may not have as good of quality, sooo… Don’t judge me for that imaginary viewers.  Thank the academic gods that I get to take a video editing class in the spring.  I’ve never taken one before, so I will finally learn how to do things the right way, rather than the “Courtney Seat of Your Pants Special” that I’ve relied on for the past 4 or 5 years…  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone I don’t know what I’m doing.

Anyway, back to making art.  I’ve been trying to explore much more subtle areas in the concepts of failure and control.  I think I’m starting to make progress in that direction, but it’s coming slowly.  One of the things that I’ve realized about myself is that I am an incredibly literal, straightforward person.  I also gravitate toward extreme opposites, hence my tendency to create work which is black and white in terms of interpretation or content (I feel like there is  a photography joke in there somewhere too…).  I want a clear, concise direction or outcome in which to head.  I don’t operate well with uncertainty.   It’s hard to reel that part of my personality in, and to embrace those uncertainties.  I’m trying though… So here is a list of some of the videos I’ve been working on (They will all eventually be links to youtube, but since it is still taking FOREVER to upload my videos and I would like to publish this post some time before the end of the world…)

High Tide Performance

Breaking the Bend/Bending to Break

Bleed 2

Bleed 3

Bleed 4

Fairy Tale Logic

High Tide was a performance I did a few weeks ago on St. George Island, a state park about 2 1/2 hours west of here.  What you see in the clip is about 4 minutes of an hour long performance where I laid perpendicular to the tide as it came in (at high tide).  It was sort of a last minute kind of thing.  I just got this idea of laying in the tide as it came up, and I went and did it.  I’m not 100% sure what my intent was for the performance, certainly something about control, but I couldn’t say specifically.  For me, there is something there about the necessity to accept the fact that there are some things that you cannot control.  Going into it, I really had no notion of what would happen, except that I might get covered in the sand that the tide carried in over me.  I had NO idea that the tide would eventually take me, swing me around, and push me down the shore.  I had no control, except to roll myself back over after the water flipped me.  I wasn’t smart enough to think of wearing ear or nose plugs so there are the involuntary jerks of my body trying to resist  the water, and I’m kind of torn as to wether I like these or not.  I think I may have to sit with this piece for a while longer before I can make that call..

Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend, was an extension of High Tide in some ways.  The same day I did High Tide, I also shot some footage of me trying to fight, or stand up to the waves which would frequently knock me down.  Pairing those two shots together seemed to get closer to some of the ideas I’m trying to work on in terms of control and quite, subtle failure.  Again, I’m not sure I’m completely happy with it… I feel like it might need something else, or just some closer shots.  Everything seems so far off right now.  I’ve also had it suggested that I need to rethink what I’m wearing.  Which, me being me, I never even considered wearing anything but a bathing suit.  My thought process went something like this:  “I’m going to the beach.  I am going to the beach to shoot a performance.  I am shooting a performance in which I will be in the sand and water.  I will wear a bathing suit, because that is what you wear at the beach.”  End of story, no further consideration.  See what I mean about being painfully literal and straightforward?

Clearly the Bleed videos are influenced by my experience with the ruined notebooks.  I’m playing around with the water and how many pages and stuff like that, but ehhhhh… I don’t know…  I think I’m much more attracted to the artifacts created in the process of shooting the video than the video itself.  I think this might be the case too with the photographs of my ruined notebooks I’ve been playing around with.  Here are some quick snaps of the objects themselves…

See!  They are so much more appealing.  I don’t know what to do.  I think it would be a little extreme to continue flooding things just so that I could take pictures of the things that were water damaged.  Also, living in Florida, I feel like that could be misconstrued or some what insensitive, what with all the hurricanes and flooding that happen down here routinely.  On a semi related note, is there a water equivalent to pyromania?  Because I think I might have that…

Fairy Tale Logic is my rework of …lies expectations… the performance I did back in September.  What you’re watching is sort of a mash up of how I envision it being displayed.  Ideally, I’d like it as two separate projections or screens, each playing one side of the “conversation.”  Obviously I don’t have this luxury on youtube, so you get a bastardized version of it.

The entire time I was working on this, I went back and forth on how I feel about it.  I spent the better part of two weeks reshooting this and another week editing, so I’ve spent a lot of good old quality time with this video.  I’m concerned that it feels to forced and stiff, where as the performance itself was much more organic and unscripted.  I do like it better that it’s just me in a room by myself, but in doing that I feel like I lost some thing…  It also seems some how more insincere.  Maybe I just need to not look at it for a few weeks and then re-watch it, because at this point I know the damn thing back and forth.

That’s pretty much the wrap up.  I have some other things I’ve been working on, like those photographs of the ruined notebooks and the liquid light tests.  Buuuut, neither of those are in any state to be documented or shared…  I’m a little lost with those two.  I would like to say “We’ll, you can’t win them all” to myself, but that feels like a cop out and that makes me feel lazy.  SO instead, I will just say that I will win them all, it just might take me awhile…  Just remember…

More another day… And check back, I’ll have links up to all of the videos as soon as I can finish getting them uploaded.

Expectations, Monica Cook, Serendipity, & James Elkins…

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long now…  I’m not joking when I say I barely had time to sleep the last few weeks.

So where did I leave off?  Ah yes.  The performance I am temporarily titling “…expectations lie…”.  You can view a 10 minute video clip of the performance here. The over all performance was about 45 minutes, and I’ve edited the video to reflect that time lapse a little bit. I’m not totally happy with the documentation, but that’s OK.  I plan on recreating this as a video piece in it’s own right.

Anyway, as I discussed before it was my intent for this piece to center around the idea of expectations versus reality and some what self destructive behaviors.  Now that I think back about it, the reason the 500 Days of Summer sequence was sticking in my mind was because it was an example of an internal or mental set up of expectations. Many of my pieces thus far have focused on external physical actions, that didn’t necessarily portray the psychological aspect of what I was attempting to address.  And subconsciously I must  have realized this because as I brainstormed, I began trying to find ways to impede or damage myself mentally.  Well, I came up with the idea to attempt to recite something, flawlessly of course, and for each mistake that I made, I would be forced to take a shot (of vodka).  For me, it was the perfect representation of frustration in action.  Trying to do something, over and over again, but failing each time, and chastising yourself each time, makes it harder and harder to live up to you own expectations.  So I ran with it…even though it seemed like a really bad idea for my liver.  But then again, I didn’t really expect to drink as much as I wound up drinking…

 
I won’t bore you with the exact details, but it took me almost a week to come up with something appropriate for the recitation…I finally settled on an excerpt from a book entitled Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

It’s the tiny bit at the bottom of page 34 through to the second full paragraph on page 35.  To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% happy with what I chose, as it’s a bit too theoretical and screams “Art!”  I am still looking for something more subtle and applicable to all types of expectations, not just the ones that relate to art making.  But it served it’s purpose well.

I also developed this idea about having an on going internal monologue calling out my mistakes and generally telling me how worthless I am.  It worked pretty well… You can see/hear the results for yourself on the video.  Here’s a few stills if your too lazy to watch or you’re like me and your internet is too slow.

Over all, I’m really pleased with the way the performance turned out.  My anxiety level was pretty high as I planned this, and it reached extreme levels as I started the performance (You can totally tell at the beginning of the video…It’s pretty funny actually).

The fantastic thing for me however, was that a few days before the performance occurred, and I was lucky enough to have a studio visit with an amazing artist named Monica Cook.  In much of her work she has this play between chaos and control going on, so I was looking forward to talking with her about that.  My visit with her was completely beyond my wildest dreams!  She was really supportive of the ideas I was using, and liked the performance I had planned.  Her encouragement really helped me get over some of that anxiety and just do the darn thing.  It was fan-tastic.  I wish I would have remembered to record it… I totally forgot to turn on the audio record app thingy on my phone.  😦

I also had this really great conversation with her about serendipity and deja vu.  Just the day prior, all my notebooks that I keep my research, brainstorming, and notes for teaching in got soaking wet somehow and the pens I use are most decidedly not water safe…

I really kind of freaked out.  To say that I was distraught would be an understatement, and I had actually gotten so upset I threw away my notebooks.  I didn’t even know what to do.  But then as the night progressed and I thought about it, there was something to these notebooks.  Even Eric thought I should do something with them.  So I went the next morning and rescued the notebooks from the trash can in the photo lab.  I showed them to Monica during my studio visit and she agreed that I needed to use them to create.  We discussed how water keeps popping up in my work, and this so called destruction was actually serendipity pointing me on my way.  We both look at serendipity and deja vu the same way… that it means you are on the right track and things are good.  Its funny to me though, that water is somehow finding it’s way into my work.  It may sound odd, but I’ve always felt a very definite connection to water, even as a child.  I loved hearing it rain, and being on beaches, things like that.  To go all astrological on you, I’m sure it’s somehow related to the fact that I am a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign.

In any event, I’ve been playing around with these pages for a few weeks now.  But I’m still not sure what they will become.  I’ve shot some photos, and I’m also working on a related video.  Both are still in an awkward, undefined stage, but I’ll share the photos, as the video is completely incoherent right now.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these, as just photographing these objects seems too easy… I also think I just like the original object more.  But that might be my own biases.

I’ll talk more about this later maybe, but the other happening that kept me from writing, was that James Elkins came as a visiting scholar to FSU.  I was on the planning committee for that and so spent a day driving him around, which was pretty cool.  I also got a studio visit with him, which again was a great experience.  I DID remember to record that one.  🙂

One of the things Elkins said to me about my work was that I needed to find more of a grey area…  Where the topics of success and failure are not so clearly defined.  I think this is really great feedback, but I’m not sure how to do this.  He also got me thinking about how I define perfection, or the opposite of failure.  Elkins pointed out that to understand the failure, I should try to understand what perfection is.  I don’t have an answer for that right now, but it’s something that is rolling around in my head currently.

So… Busy times here in the studio.  Lots of studio visits, lots of thinking, and lots of experimenting with stuff…  Right now, I’m waiting for my committee to come in and do reviews once again.  Although, apparently only one of my committee members is going to be present. And I even showered, put on nice clothes AND make-up.  Yeesh.  Its OK, I get to do it again in a month.  Wish me luck!

Art & Fear belongs to the aforementioned authors.  All of the photos in this post are mine, but the images from my performance were taken by Samantha Burns.

This Will Have to Tide You All Over for Now…

Hey imaginary followers!

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a post, but many things have taken place in the last few weeks that have gotten in my way.  Like WordPress crashing and my half written blog post disappearing into the digital ether…  But the bottom line is that I still don’t have a blog post ready for you, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to write a good one…  So in the mean time I present to you a pictoral version of my last two weeks.  Feel free to write your own captions or stories to go along.  It might be funnier/more interesting this way!

monica cook

Ellen Mueller

I swear I’ll get a real post out about what’s going on in the studio pictures as well as my most recent performance… It just won’t happen til the beginning of next week.  There is SO much going on right now!

Most of the images are mine, or are borrowed from the web.  Paintings from Monica Cook, performance stills from Ellen Mueller (except the ones of me…those are mine, fair and square).  Books from respective authors/publishing companies.  Fountain logo property of Fountain Art Fair, Working Method Contemporary logo property of Working Method Contemporary Gallery.  Did I miss anything?  I hope not.  If I did I’m sorry, and IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ME, IT BELONGS TO YOU.

Looming Deadline: Impending Anxiety Attack

In a little over a week I am supposed to be doing a performance here in town.  I voluntarily opted to do this, thinking that it would be a great motivator to flesh out some ideas and get the ball rolling for the semester.  And then I decided to double it up with a required performance for my Performance History and Practice course, still foolishly thinking I would be fine.  But I am not.

I still have no idea what I am going to do…

Well, technically that is a lie.  I have a general idea of the themes and concepts I wish to address, but I’ve got NO clue exactly what the performance will be.  And I’m fending off an anxiety attack because of this.  I swear I’ve been thinking about this for weeks.  Before school even started actually.  I’ve been doing research, and brainstorming… I haven’t gotten anywhere.

My intended concept for this performance revolves around reality versus expectations,  using the themes of failure, futility, and anxieties that I have been dealing with over the last year or so.  I was thinking about how hard I often making things for myself, frequently choosing the most difficult or involved manner of performing tasks.  This in turn made me reflect on the way that my expectations are often drastically unrealistic, and that disconnect between expectation and reality is very likely the source for much of my anxiety.  Additionally, for me, there is a factor of repetitious, and sometimes destructive, behaviors, because I refuse to give in, or to do something in any other way than I envision it.  In a word, inflexibility.

In it’s original iteration, the idea for this performance was a video of  me running and jumping for a tree limb, just out of my reach, over and over and over again.  Until I was exhausted, possibly bruised and/or bloodied.  That then evolved into a performance of me attempting to jump over a limbo stick that was placed at a height which I could have easily walked under.  Again, repeating this same pointless and destructive action, refusing to admit failure or adjust my behavior to a more appropriate course of action.  But the reason neither of these ideas came to fruition, is that I see them as a bit to literal.  Like one liners that will cause a laugh, but not provoke thought.  With the limbo stick idea, there was a factor of physical technicality too.  The performance is talking place in a space which I cannot permanently alter, making it difficult for me to construct some type of structure which would allow me to repeatedly throw my body against it and have said structure still remain standing.

And that brings me to my current quandary.  I have no idea what to do…

So I am going to continue to write about this and hope for one of my magical moments where everything connects and finally makes sense.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks doing research into Matthew Barney, specifically his Drawing Restraint series.  I will wax lyrical about my love of him in another post, but there are a number of things in his Drawing Restraint series that parallel some of the things I want to do or am thinking about in relation to this performance.

The thing about all of Barney’s work, is that it is informed by the practice of hypertrophic training.  Briefly, this is the way that athletes train their muscles at increasingly difficult levels in order to build up strength.  According to Nancy Spector, the chief curator at the Guggenheim (or The Gügg and The Husband and I sometimes refer to it) in New York, this informs the fundamental tenet of Barney’s practice:  Form cannot materialize or mutate with out struggle against resistance in the process.  In the grand scheme of Drawing Restraint, Barney willingly puts himself in ever increasingly difficult scenarios, using extreme lengths to create a mark or create form.  It’s really pretty fascinating.  Thinking about that, you see the desire to make a mark, or more basically to create, and then you contemplate the accompanying restraint and training required of creating.  So in this really beautifully, and mildly absurd way, Barney is challenging himself, level by level (a theme also seen in his other major body of work The Cremaster Cycle, to make a mark.  Barney is also a proponent of using art to overcome psychological division and conflict, which is very much right in line with where my thoughts are these days.

I’ve also spent some time looking at an artist, William Lamson, a fellow student recently brought to my attention.  In his work I see so much of what I want to convey.  There is this sense of tension and self-defeat in his work that I find completely compelling, particularly in his Actions series.  He very carefully choreographs events in his videos, expending tremendous amounts of time and energy in the process of creation, knowing that the moment he initiates the plan, he is actually pressing a self destruct button.  When you watch these videos unfold, you hold your breath with this feeling of anxiety and anticipation because you know exactly what is going to happen and that it is all going to be defeated.  You are watching self imposed failure.  The scary thing is, I can completely relate to the train of thought.  I can understand and predict the outcomes of my actions or behaviors, and see the possibility for failure.  In fact, no matter what, there is always a possibility for failure.  But that version of events is totally overshadowed and out weighed by the prospect of successfully executing something to my exacting expectations.  So really, it becomes about this tension between the reality of the situation and the expectation, about the inevitability of the out come.

Which brings me full circle back to the expectations versus reality thing.  And for some reason I keep thinking about this scene from 500 Days of Summer, one of my all time favorite movies, and possibly one of the most brilliantly filmed scenes ever.

I just keep watching it over and over again.  Obviously the content is not what I am trying to get at, but there is something in the format that really intrigues me.  The whole movie is brilliant really (and it doesn’t hurt that Joesph Gordon-Levitt is in it, or that there’s a lot of Regina Spektor’s music), but this scene has stuck with me since I first saw it back in 2010 or so.  And no, I didn’t go out of my way to find a JGL connection here.  It was a totally organic happening!

I think the question here is how do I put this all into the meat grinder and distill it into something?  Can some one answer that question for me?  Is that like asking someone to do my homework for me?  Nah… We can just call it an artistic collaboration.  😉
So, no magic moment yet, but maybe it all just needs to process?

 

Oh, and of course, the video clip is not mine.  I wish.  If it were I wouldn’t be in the position I am!

Yank My Chain/Push My Button

I’m a little belated in posting this piece, it was completed back in October, and I wasn’t going to post it at all actually.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece lately, and it has sort of taken on a second life in my mind.  I plan on reworking several aspects of it in order to do another performance in the up coming months.  So be on the look out for that!  The banner on my page will now also make sense…

Yank My Chain/Push My Button

This work was, in fact, the first thing I completed after coming back to school, and honestly, I think it might have been the most successful thing I made all year.  (Shhh…don’t tell my faculty!)  This piece was a first for me in a number of other ways too.

Yank My Chain/Push My Button marks the beginning of my attempts to focus on my own anxieties and fight with control.  Prior to this work, I mainly focused on topics of identity and how we constructed it.  I think in some ways my work still touches on those ideas, but in a much more specific manner, exploring the ways in which anxiety and control can define the individual.  Additionally, looking back at this piece, I see the beginnings of the related ideas of failure and futility showing.  Though I didn’t realized it, I was doomed to failure from the beginning, thus rendering all my attempts at control futile.

The first vision I had of this piece was in reaction to frustrations over my inability to control or predict my own body’s physical behaviors.  Somewhere along the line, an image of an uncontrollable water source creeped into my mind.  That initial imagery evolved into the idea for a fountain over which I did not have control.  The idea for the frames on the wall grew out of a concern for how I would not only utilize, but fill the space I was to be using.

Another first for me here, was that I was suddenly the performer.  I had done a few performance pieces in the past, but I was always the puppet master, so to speak.  I created and dictated, others did the actual work of performing.  In this instance however, since the work was very much about me and my reactions to a situation over which I ultimately did not have control, the performer had to be me.  This is something I was not comfortable with, and still am not entirely so.  I struggle with this, as I know my work is progressing in the direction of performance art.

A final first for me in Yank My Chain/Push My Button, is that this is the first  installation that was not based on photography or video.  Yes, there were photographs on the wall, but they were not the focus, and essentially anything could have been in those frames.  The images on the wall were simply another thing for me to attempt to exert control over.

When all was said and done, this piece was more successful than I could have ever planned or hoped.  I ran out of material with which to dry up the water, and could never quite keep up with the pushing of the button.  Additionally, the system I had rigged to allow the audience to tip the frames was not as sturdy as I assumed, and it backfired on me.  After a few too many unnecessarily hard yanks, frames started coming off their hangers, or crashing to the ground, resulting in seriously damaged frames.  This had never been part of the plan, and I was actually a little upset about it, since the frames were not just cheap things bought at the craft store.  However, this really helped the piece in the end.
 
Starting Out…

The Aftermath

The before and after shots are my own, the action shots were taken by Terri Lindbloom, and the video was taken by Naghmeh Farzaneh.