This is the first blog post of several. I plan on writing about art, writing about life, and writing about... well... what else is there? Anyway... I plan on having opinions. Some of them are going to make me unpopular with some people, but I'm a woman with opinions... so I'm already unpopular with some people. I'll begin with this:
A few months ago I was having a conversation with someone about performing at REDCAT studio and the question was asked, "so do you make actual art?" After being somewhat defensive about "what art is", I answered that yes... I also make "traditional" forms of art.
After moving through a series of emotions, I realized there was a lot going on with this. First of all, arrogance. I was arrogant in thinking people just know what I do. I was not arrogant in assuming that contemporary visual art has a broad definition. I also felt frustrated. Mostly because people didn't know why I took a break from risk, why I took a break from public projects, and mostly, why I was taking breaks from art. I just wasn't ready to talk about the trauma, but I knew it showed and I knew it would continue to effect my work and my relationships until I talked about it. So here we are... I'm going to talk about it... in teleological order, although, please know that time here is very very circular and these things are all related and depend on each other.
My father died. My father passed very unexpectedly in January of 2013. At the time, this seemed to effect me more outwardly than the rest of my family. I am an emotional being. I screamed, I cried, I slept on a pile of his clothes for weeks. After time had passed I cried less, but still needed a lot. More than my romantic partner of several years could give and we broke up. I was without men in my life for the first time. I simultaneously experienced something very new... I lacked rage. A dominant emotion in my life is rage. My parents were retired police officers, I was a sexual abuse survivor, and I had a front row seat to my mother's abuse from both my father and the patriarchal system my father was a symptom of. My father routinely terrorized us violently and it's difficult to talk about because I loved him so fiercely. So rage has always had a presence for me. Then my dad was gone and the physical embodiment of my enemy and my savior... was also gone. I felt lost. I was going through the motions. I knew what you all expected of me and I kept trying to give it to you, but I wasn't angry. I was concerned about the things I had always been concerned about but I wasn't on fire anymore. I felt like I was lying to you.
I was ripped off. It's hard to talk about this next part without sounding like a brat. And fuck you for making me feel like a brat. Authorship is rough when you're a radical. Authorship is even harder when it concerns a collective that encourages people to steal the idea. What this is really about is losing naiveté. Losing some hope. I had a studio visit with an artist in grad school about my concern over vacant lots. It had to do with my father's cancer diagnosis. He didn't pass of cancer. We don't know how he passed. We don't want to know. He seemed peaceful. Hopefully it was. Anyway... I wanted to preserve the absence in these lots. I didn't want to fill the presence of the absence, I just wanted to live with the absence. So I met with this artist because I liked how he had dealt with interstitial space. I developed a collective project, was excited to share my developments with him and was particularly excited when in 2012, the project was included in an exhibition with his work. So when people started sending me a project he was doing, in which even the language seemed lifted from our collective's efforts... I was naturally devastated and frustrated and sad and angry. "Authorship" suddenly became an issue in my life, when I had worked to be responsible with it. It sucks to have to defend shit you're not into because the alternative is shit you're even less into. Other women contacted me with similar experiences, both with him personally, and with other male artists and it just felt like... why bother? I'm a fighter... I didn't want to give up, but I resent you. I resent you who haven't spoke up for fear of sounding like a brat. Because you haven't spoken up, I sound like a brat. I sound ungrateful and inconsistent because you have all just accepted that this happens. I bite the hand that feeds me because sometimes it feeds me bullshit. This is an epidemic. Why am I the only one talking about being infected?
I was raped. On April 4th, 2014 I went on a first date. It went well... at first, and then later in the evening, I regained my ability to understand what was going on and I was hearing myself saying "no" over and over. When I became physically capable of fighting back, he became verbally abusive and threw my things in the hallway and kicked me out before I could get dressed. He then followed me to my car, where I tried to process what had happened. I called people who lived close by, but no one answered. I drove home.
I'm still recovering from it. I still can't believe I'm talking about it, telling you about it. But the thing is that I wear it. I wear it and you see it, but you have no idea what it is. People thought I'd like "Carry That Weight," the performance by Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University. Some of these people didn't know about my assault... and they were carrying it with me.
I'm not asking for your sympathy or empathy or anything like that. But my work has changed. I want you to know why my work has changed:
So yeah, I'm rapping and taking aim and calling shit out and making music that I love and abandoning posts and writing new ones. Because fuck it. I'm gonna do what I want. I deserve the chance to. That does not make me ungrateful, it makes me awake. Want some tea?
PS... I have some paintings planned. You may wanna stock up for the apocalypse.