I realized this week that I might be fighting my own expectations again. While yes, I’ve been in Chicago for two months, it still might be a little unrealistic of me to expect myself to be totally acclimated and to have built a steady routine and become productive. (Especially having added a new relationship into the mix.) It takes time to readjust, to find a solid groove and balance. I cannot expect myself to have mastered that in such a short period of time. Realizing that has helped quash some of my anxiety about getting work done in the studio and feeling overwhelmed by my job. It’s frustrating to me that I still do this to myself… Try to conform to my own unrealistic expectations. Particularly when it comes to the studio. I seem to be able to curb it elsewhere in my life, but the studio man… It always sneaks up on me. The important thing is that I’m trying, and I’m making progress. Even if it is slow.
Despite the minor anxieties, I really cannot, and should not, complain though. I am, by leaps and bounds, the happiest and most content I can remember being. My bills are paid, I have my own apartment, I have a really good (if sometimes frustrating) job that is actually in academia AND pays well, I live in an amazing city with a million opportunities for me, and I’m part of a we with a really fabulous bloke. I’m actually sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but not enough to let it spoil my joy at this moment. In the last few weeks I have gotten to shoot with an amazing Sigma art lens, learn all kinds of new things about printers, I’ve gotten to see an improv show, explore Chicago’s architecture, FINALLY go apple picking and to a pumpkin patch, eaten all kinds of ethnic foods… I just, I feel very fortunate to have gotten my job and to have things going so well that my anxiety over not making more art, faster, seems really silly. And I think that’s a good attitude for me to have.
I feel though, that my art thoughtz have been coming pretty fast and hard lately and I haven’t been particularly apt at keeping up with them or making steps to make things. Never the less it’s exciting that I’m having these ideas. It’s been awhile since the ideas came so quickly and in any quantity. It’s almost overwhelming, but in the best of ways. I’m excited to get my white board up and running in the studio so I can start sorting through and keeping track of my ideas. That’s something that’s sorely been missing in my practice the last year and a half. It will also be nice to get all those notes out of my sketchbook and into the computer so that I can collate them with my whiteboarding. Super duper excited!
I have several ideas that are really vying for my attention right now but I think are a diverse showing of my artistic interests. Both in terms of media and in terms of concept, and I think it will be interesting to watch them develop. I’m really kind of curious about an idea that I had just the other night, which I envision as being totally photographic. Perhaps even a photo book (totally eating crow on that one, if it happens). I wonder if I’m going to get bored with it as I tend to do with any type of straight photography, and if conceptually, I will feel as if it is accomplishing it’s goal. I tend to be disappointed by straight photography because I feel a lot of it is: Photographer takes picture. Photographer tells you want the picture is about. OR: Photographer takes picture. It is pretty/technically proficient/”compelling”. There isn’t an experience to be had, there isn’t something to interact with or explore. Ugh. Vom. Super boring (TO ME! Let me stress that… SUPER BORING TO ME.) Yes, my Period series was straight photos, but always with the end goal of a massive installation in mind. (Which! While I’ve had no traction on finding a place to make that happen, I have decided I want to print life sized stickers and plaster them around town!)
In any event, this idea for a photo series struck me the other night in the shower. I turned and happened to see a hair on my bathroom tile, which was not mine. Ok, fine, it must be Matthew’s, since he showers at my place a few times a week. But somehow that got the random synapses firing as I was finishing my shower. I started thinking about how I really love living alone, and my place here in Chicago is really the first time in almost 8 years that I’ve actually had a place of my own, by myself. It reminded me that I was in a romantic relationship for almost 6.5 years, most of which we lived together, and nearly 3 of which we were married. Our lives were totally linked and wound together on every level. But then the divorce. It was like a perfect, sterile break that I truly rejoiced in because I suddenly things were always where I put them last, there were no arguments over how something should be done. Everything was the way I wanted it. And I embraced that. But now that Matthew and I are a “we” and he’s at my place and in my space pretty regularly, I think there’s going to be a period of adjustment while I get used to the traces he leaves behind. Stray hairs discovered on my shower tiles, rumpled blankets, extra pillows on one side of the bed, double the dishes… I want to use imagery to investigate these invited trespasses and my re-acclimation to it. I also like the parallel (conceptually) between the fact that I really have no idea where our relationship will/is going and the fact that I really have no clue how this whole straight photography thing is going to play out. We’ll see…
I’ve also really been feeling the need to do some performative work. I have this idea to attempt to walk a straight line down the sidewalk here in Chicago. I need some assistance with this one though because in order to film it, I will need someone to babysit the camera while I do the act. I think I want to try a few different variations of this act. One that is sort of unapologetic and unwavering, where I do not stray from my course, one where I just stare at the ground as I walk, effectively ignoring any potential collisions, perhaps one where I try to avoid any and all collisions… Variety might be a good idea. I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to say with this, but I sort of see some parallels between the act and my anxiety and stubbornness.
The third idea I’m trying to pin down and figure out right now I’m referring to as Grandmother Spider in my head. (I needed some kind of working title I guess…) It’s me reading an essay (Titled, you guessed it! Grandmother Spider.) from Rebecca Solnit’s book Men Explain Things to Me. It’s essentially an essay about how women are “disappeared” from history and society. I think this is an especially pertinent issue right now. Younger generations are rejecting feminism, reproductive rights are under serious attack, and of course there’s this whole thing going on with Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi nonsense. Basically, women are still not on equal footing. My thought here, is to record myself reading the essay, then periodically fade my own voice out (so you only see my face/torso), or fade out my physical presence (so you only hear my voice). I had also thought about having a male read the same essay, with the sound on that channel subtly escalating over my own reading of the essay. But I’m not sure if the male should read the same essay? Or perhaps if he only read the parts that pertain to men? Or changed the genders of what Solnit originally wrote? I think though that there is something nice about the idea of a cacophony of voices trying to be heard. Men often talk over women, so its not like it’s a stretch. There needs to be a visual component that echoes that though… Perhaps split screen with me on one side and the male on the other? And his side slowly gets larger and louder? Not sure, but I like this idea. It’s simple in terms of execution and the visual, but complex conceptually. I shot some test footage for this the other day and I plan on looking over it later today.
I’ve got a few other project ideas kicking around that I’ve made varying degrees of progress on, but I think I just need to let them lie right now. One is Adrift which is the second part of a live performance I did back in May. It’s supposed to be video and photo documentation that calls the veracity of the performance into question, but I’m not sure how to put the documentation together to get that across. Also, I always drag my feet when it comes to video editing. It’s the worst. I’ve also started what I hope will be a massive photographic installation revolving around the birth control pill, but I started to get really frustrated with the images I was getting. The pills are so tiny that getting nice, sharp images of them that are well lit is difficult using the gear I have. But I also don’t want to invest in a single lens or something silly like that JUST for this project. Besides I really only need a handful of shots to make the entire thing happen. I’m letting it sit on the back burner right now until I can resolve the best way to capture those images.