Wednesday 13 November 2013

I have been developing my performance piece 'Under the skin'

I have talked about 'Under the skin' here on my blog, but I have expanded it now. I am going to talk to Robert Pacitti at the about how to develop this further and where to go next with it. Here is my draft of my thoughts. 
'Under the skin' is a performance piece about the process of drawing the self, but incorporating the social events, both accidental ( ageing, pregnancy, illness) and imposed, (dress, hair, extending to suggested surgery) that layer our self image. –
This way of working (performance) is relatively new to me and so very exciting. It extends and incorporates my practise as a painter.
I am interested in process. A painting has its limitations and I find process an aspect impossible to show in static and trapped two dimensional images.
 I realise that the process of painting is often invisible to the viewer, but one they are interested in.
(I have found when giving demonstrations of portrait in charcoal to various groups, the watching of a drawing develop is an interesting, fascinating and absorbing activity. People want to take part and understand the process.) Perhaps I could perform the piece at a demo for local art groups. 

I have recently made some self portraits, with touch as the starting point. These paintings have developed in diverse fashions, but they just look like different pictures. It’s the process that is the nub.
I am thinking about combining demonstrations of portrait painting/ drawing incorporating the exploring and drawing with touch as the starting point. I would start by making some sketches, from touch (not the mirror), which blinded, I rub, smear, add delicate trace of line, paint, perhaps I could draw/ tattoo on pigs skin, as I am interested in tattooing.  This could be used instead of paper or canvas. I could use a side of pig, or stretched skin, which can be cut, flayed, worn, etc. (perhaps vellum, drawing with sanguine conte)
 The audience watch.

I begin with an exercise of feeling my face and drawing what I feel, not looking at the paper.
Then using big close up mirrors and paint etc I work on the paintings further. I paint what I feet under my fingertips, but looking at the canvas. I then use a mirror and adapt the image.
I do this more times, trying to explore different emotions and styles; they are a progression and an exploration.
There could be easels, drawing boards, pallets, paints, music, and all the stuff of the studio. The audience would be a voyeur into the private place, the work place, under the skin. Or perhaps there could be projections of the studio which change as time changes.
The sound-scape could be a clock, a speeded up world of life, overlaid with the music, I work to. Then of course, there will be the sounds I make when working. Perhaps I could have a dialogue with the audience. Perhaps a presentation…
So the audience is drawn in and then I can add layers. So they see and understand, not only the simplistic ‘how does the drawing develop’, but also a more complex one. How does a painting, develop over the backdrop of life and time;
As I work, I walk away, to turn and regard the developing pictures, return, change them, wipe my hands on my clothes, walk away some more, stretch, make coffee, go for a wee, work, walk, work, walk.
The time charges on relentlessly. Each time I walk away subtle changes happen to my person, which I control, to show outer changes. The old layers of persona's, discarded, thrown away... the possibilities are endless. I can hang one from a nail on the wall in the studio. Prufrocks moth pinned to a board, that hanging skin in Michelangelo's last judgement in the Sistine chapel. -
This could evolve into and be punctuated with a sort of fashion show, wearing the used paper suits from Gina Maria Casetta 's forensic work. The suits are paper, the material of the artist, and can be painted, cut, sewn, and moulded.
I could wear a basic nothing suit; close fitting, with a drawn pubis and breasts.
Others could be drawn on and adapted, discarded and hung up as a representation of both,  enforced change, internal and external...e.g. age, pregnancy, illness and our change of choice, i.e., hair, or hair growth, removal, make up, surgery, and simply taste and fashion. I envisaged layers like an onion,
 Perhaps there could be projections onto the altered white costumes.

 Who am I who can I be. The layers of person, who you are, what role you play, and that changing role as you grow older, is part of the human condition... Mother, daughter, Father and son. I friend I met up with recently has lost his son and his father within the space of a few months. Suddenly, his identity has changed. How does he relate to himself now?

Do I stuff the suits into the body to make the pregnancy, potent expectancy, do I give birth to the alternative, potential versions of myself.

When I was young I picked a new look every now and then, trying them on, seeing how this and that fitted. As I grew older this seemed to stop, life imposed a style on me. Now I am playing again. As I looked at my ageing self, I thought, who is that? I don't want to compare this woman of 50 in the mirror with the woman of 30, 40. So I grew my hair, put on some makeup, lost some weight. Now a new woman looks back at me, with a new dynamic. I have found a new sexuality... and it’s fun, but interesting and complex also.

The fashion show and drawing progresses.

The high heel platform shoes stumble, the You Tube compilation, models who stumble on the cat walk. Mad, crazy, high shoes, making the already tall girls; who usually wear flats, now become giantesses.
The shoes resonate with the performers in the Greek tragedy, stereotypes, archetypes, as we flay, try to see underneath the skin. Perhaps masks too… tall tall tall….
Scrape, gouge, and stumble across a version of the truth. As Patrick Whites character Hurtle Duffield scrawls upon the dunny wall, - god the vivisector, the artist the vivisector.
The projections of the studio change as time changes.

But when I return to the canvas the work continues as it evolves, randomly, sometimes I turn the canvas, sometimes I cannot work, and sometimes I work in frenzy. We will see where the work takes us. Always the studio projection develops, changes, time relentlessly progresses.
But through the years the secret self, the heart of the onion remains constant.

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