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Pecha Kucha

Before we paused the uni year for the Christmas break, we were asked to present a pecha pucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each!) on our ideas, development, materials and research. I found it such a valuable experience, enabling me to really focus my thought process onto my key ideas and goals, and hone down my research to concentrate on the interesting and relevant stuff. So I thought I would share here... Enjoy!

My work this year started after evaluating last year’s work, where I was looking at feminist issues, which although I think are important, I do not wish to be seen as a feminist artist before an artist in their own right. I began thinking about the bigger picture, beyond societal issues, whilst still dealing with materials that I had grown to love and felt I could push further.

This question of the bigger picture of the universe, ultimately asking what the point to life is, became a bit overwhelming. And I came to agree with the nihilistic conclusion that there isn’t any real point to life, any meaning we’ve found in life is constructed by man, completely fabricated to give us a feeling of purpose and importance. And this was challenging to think about.

Darwin’s theory of evolution changed not just how we see the world but changed the social dynamic of the modern world, changing from heavily religious belief systems to science as fact. Ultimately, he should be considered one of the main causes of the removal of our sense of purpose in the vast universe that a belief in a higher power gave us. This spreading of the idea that we live to survive to reproduce to keep the human race surviving and evolving for no apparent reason.

So I started thinking about the idea that if we are not everything, and the only conclusion to our individual and collective existences is death, as any lasting effect we have on the world is ultimately still vastly overshadowed by the expanse of time and space. It became important to me to remove this importance that we have given ourselves, remove our ego.

However, it’s not all depressing, a lack of importance should not be something we are sad about. The idea of the absurd is this strangeness of there being no answer in the universe but we still search for purpose and meaning within it. And for those who have a darker sense of humour, this strangeness becomes somewhat amusing. And while the context and work I’m looking at and making may not appear humorous, for me they do have a funny quality to them. I believe it is important to not take ourselves to seriously otherwise one can find themselves rather depressed with the overall situation.

So if there is no meaning to life, why do we keep going? Does morality still matter? What do we do, or not do, with this information? Why not just do all these things that we shouldn’t? This is something important to my work. Removing the feeling of importance in our lives, laughing at it, playing with it, testing this ‘why not’ theory.

So primal and basic topics like sex, hunger and death become interesting. This idea that bodies are both seductive and repulsive interests me. Your organs should stay on the inside, but why not play with the grossness and connotations of death if they are displayed publicly. And ultimately are bodies are not important, just bags of meat like any other animal on the planet, so let's do what we like to them, reduce them, elevate them, mess around with it.

This is Carole Schneemann’s ‘Meat Joy’ - where people writhe around in an orgy-like practise with bits of animal meat and innards. Playing with this abjection, this horror but seductiveness, this fetishization that makes us watch through our fingers and recoil in our own interest.

Latex is a material I use a lot in my work, not only does it have skin-like qualities, it also has these connotations of fetishism and equally makes you want to touch it as it does repulses you. They’re great for making wobbly organ-like objects, that have the sense that they were once alive but no longer are. They are both familiar due to their bodily appearance but alien due to their ambiguity.

Ideas of cannibalism have been developing in my work, again, ideas of ‘why not’ (although I am not saying we should be eating each other) arise in this taboo subject. This mixture of death and pleasure, it’s horrific and animalistic but the act of eating is something we think of as pleasurable, key to our survival but also sometimes sexy. I like the idea of this bodily inception, why is outside of your body becomes insides.

This is an image of ‘Cannibals’ by Olga Balema. These are strange bodily structures, that almost appear to be physical individual beings in themselves. Clinical but botched, uncomfortable but you can never quite put your finger as to why due to their ambiguity. This piece is the first that made me consider ideas about cannibalism and the inception of work inside other work.

So recently I have started experimenting with ideas of not just cannibalism but autocannibalism. Performing and pretending to eat my own skin. This repulsive, self-destructive imagery I think works well with not just my ‘why not’ theory, but the cannibalistic ideas that I outlined before. I think it adds this idea of the artist engaging with the work as a part of the work, presenting my relationship with my contexts, my relationship with the feeling of the absurd in my own existence.

This is a image from a slaughterhouse. The thing that strikes me most about these horrific images, that are very easy to get hold of by we like to turn our heads from, is the scale that it is on, the depressing repetition, these animals are not individuals, they are all meat in our eyes. Although I don’t want to make my work a animal rights justice fight, I think subversing these images to make these cannibalistic human abbertoires becomes horrific and interesting.

I first became interested in these ideas after seeing this haunting piece by Francis Bacon. The Pope shown in the image struggles with his own existence due to his confrontation with the carcass. This melting down of making both the pope of all people and the dead animal equally as important to the image only signifies our lack of importance in the world.

This idea of ambiguity between human and animal meat is something that is really driving my work at the moment, this idea of the abject, that which is somewhere between but also both seductive and repulsive, human and mutant, alien and familiar, but ultimately using these qualities to discuss the human condition is a really interesting topic.

The work I’ve been doing recently hopefully shows this ambiguity, along with the ideas that I’ve been discussing during this presentation of slaughterhouses and cannibalism. Using super sculpey clay, which has this strange unrealistic fleshy quality to create lumps of meat. Meet ‘Monica, Erica and a little bit of Rita’ - yes this is a mambo no.5 reference just to have a bit of a laugh with it, and also to display that these are or were people.

Go bigger, more immersive, a cannibalistic slaughterhouse experience, I want people to feel the absurd experience to the fullest, to join me in this overwhelming experience of life, and either get the humour or the horror (or both) of it all.

I’m also thinking about pushing these ideas of breaking the monotony in life with doing things because of the sake of doing them, back to the ‘why not’ idea - pushing death, sex and hunger throughout.

Ending note. As this presentation finishes, I believe this is a good time for this quote. Read quote. And if this is the meaning that we take from our existences, then we may as well have a bit of fun with it.

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