Because I don’t spend much time making a work, nor did I ever learn officially the ways in which to read or see work, I’m not surprised when people fail to see what I set out to do. And my dear reader, if the first sentence of this piece made you cringe, know that I’m also not certain I should have written it or allowed you to read it. Coming clean with the sharing of intention feels like the opposite–so sticky and abusive. The post-NEA-4 generations of artists declaring themselves universally absolved of the responsibility of sharing meaning, or even simply acknowledging very debatable value of intention in their work is indeed the genesis of ABSTRACTION IS BUBBLE WRAP FOR DAMAGED GOODS. What is the harm in knowing and addressing the limitations of your work, your person, your intention, your resistance to change?
I will say that the narration of my little video identifies the subject of the film as time rather than tattoos, but somehow I knew the topic would be triggering for my audience ; ) cause even when I state, that it’s not tattoos but rather trends of reading and possessing (or tyrant-ing) time by rhetorically dancing around (versus with) others, the question of tattoo appraisal still persists. So it is with good reason people ask about tattoos. Tattoos were the hook. Because the video was impulsively produced for a small group screening at Spektrum, and not wanting to give it my all, I took a fragment from a larger work in progress that I liked but had omitted… what other neighborhood on Earth is riper for dialogue on body modification? And what a boring, non-discussion that would be… A conversation to pass the time until finally electrified by true inspiration?
Tattoos are such an easy distraction. My Mazzy Star swan was once called out in a 2008 LA pool party among younger than me up and coming artists. I didn’t realize at the time they had all gone to really expensive art schools and their positioning reflected maybe nepotism rather than content; I had assumed there was simply meaning that I couldn’t grasp… but in later evaluations, I trusted myself enough to restate criteria: When gifted with the best mentors in culturally rich cities, aren’t you supposed to be moving mountains now? So when asked: Wait where did thaaat come from? I should have resisted differently… this video is the retracing of my steps in thought. Luckily in LA, complete avoidance is natural conversational expression: Ohh, it’s just this thing, I said full stop. The meaning of their modifications was much more covert… or smartly strategic avoiding of sense?
This general rebellion among college students actively pursuing bodies poorly fit for professional environments might reflect progress, clearly the body intentionally self-designed as foreign to middle class work environments imagines its success in other spheres, but their lacking consideration for how else one’s means might be made leaves me suspicious. This revival of stick and pokes among college educated adults fairly reads as cultural slumming, and outside of this simple value judgment, while worth consideration, I’m not sure it is worth an entire conversation, definitely not a facebook call-out thread. Is it appropriating prison tattoos? Or bored adolescents bating parents? The accusation of cultural slumming is never taken lightly… But, I am ambivalent about its power as weapon in the arsenal of producing legitimacy and its others, cause again, this isn’t the type of conversation I want a part in… I’m most interested in the ways that queer theories keep us from conversation and change rather than facilitating it.
My bare arm over years under stage lighting has earned its eye rolls (as acknowledged in the video), and I relish the indulgence of this video project for its help in my repurposing my swan as the ideal texture for my embrace of the abject in drag, but my first concern is when such a benign stroke of tasteless becomes means to cruelty and harmful to the production of professional artistic persona, especially among queer personas… who should know better… who have cultivated taste for unflattering histories, incongruent love and miscalculated living. My swan and the stick and poke were, in my eyes, relative equals with only variable readings produced in time as determining judgments of taste. Relativism is an unforgivable practice; MYSTI is a guilty subject. Queer theory’s interpellations is often masked relativism with acknowledged limitations. Let’s be clear: Art making is little more than rendering others obsolete and queer theory has become the bratty little sister ready to take her turn–to fail just like the siblings before her. How else to be special and possess value without being mean? Maybe the need for canonization, the need to draw from an infinite history made only more abstract over time (especially in theory) while also knowing everything about the now before after and during the brave catapulting of self into the fucking future so fucking far into that future you’re not even here with me now is the hollowing of community that renders persons tools, steps and assemblages? Maybe queer theory is too slutty when lending herself to cultural producers who like stardom too much to share the microphone, wages and authorship with a true queer subject… the social bottom can also speak, no?
Anyways, tattoo trends I observe in Berlin, the site of so many international consumer profile studies, reflects for me the almost concurrent refusal among professionals and those aspiring to be such (academics and artists particularly) to produce and share meaning, and by sharing meaning I mean conceiving of its limitations in addition to a course of action thereafter. I’ve witnessed so many career, sabbatical-ed, noteworthy academics merely construct double binds… They take their funding, their coveted positioning and simply articulate the confines of a cell in which the internet has us power-bottoming information until we mess.
In my LA pool party, I was bottoming: feeling lucky to be included, the rather harsh dismissal of my sweetness felt deserved; my goat is never gotten because cruelty feels like a hug, often. Someone who loves your work but for all the wrong reasons… its simplicity, its weirdness, its nakedness… uses love as an insult and I am antisocial enough to have felt these comments as praise. I grew up with absolutely no friends until I was 15 and by then it was too late, I would never acquire taste for love’s addictive assurances enough to endure without question its manipulations. Growing up completely alone, spared me the existential bullshit, meaning and self were never alien to me because these where the only media with which I worked in certainty. In a recent spell of antisocial exodus, I too got in bed with queer theory–a dexterous and ambitious whore with whom you can do anything for reasonable rates. Right? What is Halberstam other than a career TV junkie (the most grotesque of narcotics if you ask me)?
Queer theory is the pervert’s gun. It back fires, shoots blanks, the foot, and rarely the enemy. Covered in various fingerprints from many overzealous uneasy shooters (observe the recent cock fight over anti-normativity and its responses on bullybloggers), greasy with lube, sloppy seconds at best if not banged to complete indifference and boredom, it’s the perfect deepthroat trainer cause its limited phallic capacity doesn’t gag, which allows you to focus your work on the performance of fellating impotent ideas… believing they make a difference while the world of thought consumers wank to your Hollywood super soft core porn in which nothing really happens. Acting violated by a phallus poorly designed for such purpose, helps anyone achieve that phantom traumatic gaze… the means through which they then get to see the world with infallible insight… Alas, theory directed at anyone but the self is careless massacre. Premiere thinkers and their spawns should know better. Is holding the throne of ‘right’ really a no-rules rugby match, or is it a childish game of hot potato with nothing really at stake, or maybe I should say, it’s authors and those gifted with their mentorship are not the ones at risk, so really what’s with all the hurt feelings and emotional shit slinging? Does queer theory make right? Or is it an admission of guilt… all the irreparable wrong done in attempting to organize thought and difference?
What the fuck is my video doing with queer theory? Abstraction–what is an artist without abstraction? The whole video is a thought… I’m thinking on screen, you see me thinking on screen, and you see that thought isn’t conversational… it’s so often the end of dialogue, sometimes even years later we finally configure the means with which to respond within a value system rather than a hierarchy. Then there is the abstract body of the smartphone-distracted viewer, at another low-fi screening in another new collectively run arts space in fashion-conscious Neukölln where there are so many screenings… so many spaces and so many more artists hopelessly disconnected in taste, aim and identification of delusion. And this is the silent conversation I have with myself before you, a secret I let you in on, about belonging in art, making it, cliched black on black on black, politic-checking, jet-settlering or cautious gentrification… among all the other conversational matters for which we care albeit carelessly. There is the tattoo and its invitation to cruelty for meaning something so simple… instead of posing complexity… un-utterables versus the vehemently denied… a string of hurtles between you and me. Here is the part where I reason with myself the means I might judge my contemporaries in return… if that was what I wanted. There are those who never once doubted their ability to be artists, I am not one. Sharing thought isn’t abstract… it’s antisocial. There is no love to be had in queer theory, certainly not love of the self. Distrust is healthy when we acknowledge the violence of which we are capable. Waiting for the words to speak is smarter than parroting the matters of today in a muddle of social media while shrugging shoulders. It’s hard to know when thought it shareable, obviously, I’m not sure that it is.