Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Project: Exchange

I've been working on this collaborative performance-for-the-lens project since January.  It continues my exploration of lipstick as a transferable medium that can connote gender, sexuality, power, etc.  For this project, I was interested in how those concepts play out within the context of a romantic relationship.  My partner and I each took a turn as the wearer of the lipstick/ initiator of the action.  For each round, we would kiss until no more lipstick could be exchanged, stopping to capture an image of the progress in between re-applications.  We repeated this process until the surfaces of both of our faces were as covered in lipstick as they seemed like they were going to get. 

This relationship is still relatively new to me, and has brought up a lot of ideas for me concerning my own sexuality and gender expression (I am a queer-identified gender-nonconforming woman; Nick is a straight cis man).  Performing this piece collaboratively speaks directly to the process of mutual transformation I have experienced in this process of getting to know and falling in love with someone while navigating these complexities. 

Much of my work deals with thoughts surrounding identity--the idea of our surface/ performed identity in relation to our inner/ personal identity; how both are in perpetual flux, informing each other, shaped within the context of broader external forces and systems.  My drawing process lately has involved directly drawing the configurations of shapes and lines that I see in the surface grain of the paper I'm working on, then tearing and reconfiguring that surface.  In looking at past projects like Putting My Face On and Kissing the Boundary, I've realized that my gestures tend to take on this process of accumulated mark on the surface until the original surface is completely obliterated/ transformed into something unrecognizable.  I like the fact that this can either take on a sinister tone or a triumphant one.  Change is difficult, and it is hard to know in the moment whether the struggle is ultimately for the better or the worse.  It is hard to know if you are losing aspects of yourself or discovering potentials heretofore unknown.  I want to speak to both--to the hope and the fear, but mostly to the overarching ambiguous mess of transition--the mess of trying to figure yourself out while simultaneously communicating to and with someone else, of learning and transforming together.  My takeaway so far is that making oneself vulnerable to someone else is always terrifying, but it can be beautiful too, especially when the exchange is mutual.  Anyway, here are the resulting images (more curated view available on the website):

Set One, Me:

Set One, Nick:

Set Two, Nick:

Set Two, Me:

 Composite, Set One:

Composite, Set Two:

Composites Combined: