7/14/2013 | 1 comments | offline
Choice is a subject that I think about often. I've got a couple of articles swimming around my head on body autonomy, but I don't really want to write them because whenever I start I begin thinking about what kind of abuse I'll get from people on the internet.
I've mentioned visiting the Tate, where I saw 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo. Salamanca, Spain. December 2000. I considered writing up my thoughts on the piece but then I realised there is no way to write about exploitation without talking about choice. Damn.
I'll break it down as brief and as inoffensively as I can. I have trouble believing real choice exists. I agree that we make choices within situations not of our choosing. For example, we chose to do a specific job, but we have to work to pay our bills. Smaller choices, like writing a blog or having a snack as we read this are parts of something else... eating is an instinctive behaviour (or whatever you want to call it) and communication may be too (you could argue it's learnt - I think it's a mixture). This brings up all sorts of arguments like I'm not hungry and I just ate, what's that about? You're eating for pleasure, I don't know about you but I was brought up eating whatever I wanted because my parents weren't educated about nutrition. I'm sure that is the reason I want cake multiple times a day. I don't know your story but I believe it's not a choice, I also believe you see it as a choice.
I had mixed feelings about 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo. Salamanca, Spain. December 2000. Mainly because when I saw it I was thinking about how much I enjoy art criticism, which then got me thinking about some inspirational words Dr Matt Lodder (volatile) gave me, which then got me thinking about how I wanted to research body modification as a way to reclaim bodies. Modification has always felt empowering to me (although I retired eighteen of the nineteen piercings I've had... not through choice, mind you ) and seeing modification used in this manner was uncomfortable.
Four prosititutes addicted to heroin were hired for the price of a shot of heroin to give their consent to be tattooed. Normally they charge 2,000 or 3,000 pesetas, between 15 and 17 dollars, for fellatio, while the price of a shot of heroin is around 12,000 pesetas, about 67 dollars.
No matter how liberal you are I think the idea there is choice here is dubious. I quickly noted down the blurb under this piece because there was so much I wanted to address.
This work relies on the idea of submission, in this case not that of the artist but of the work's subjects: four drug-addicted prostitutes hired for the price of a shot of heroin, in return for consenting to be tattooed.
Sierra's provocative film records the women being tattooed with a permanent line. The work transforms a process of exploitation into a spectacle, its presentation in a gallery implicating the institution in relations of power and economics.
The work falls within a lineage of performance art that is inherently political, exploring ideas of objectification and commodification of the body.
This is one of the first things that horrified me. If this had happened in everyday life, not to be viewed in a gallery or museum, I'd have major issues. I'd think the artist was exploitative and I'd have grave concerns about the integrity of the tattooist. But would I feel this same way about a photograph of a dying or dead person? I do think some injustices need to be seen, because nothing can be gained from ignorance. Where do I draw the line?
In answer to my previous question. The event was staged. Addicted people, which implies some level of desperation or vulnerability, were offered money to have their body modified. I'm not so naive as to think that nobody has been tattooed against their will, but I find coercion perhaps even more unsettling than brute force.
The tattoo is permanent. Does that make the exploitation worse? Surely all exploitation is exploitation? As a politically active person I often get asked People in third world countries have dictators, what do you have to be angry about? An injustice is an injustice, if you were punched in the face how would you feel if someone suggested being punched in the face wasn't as bad as being punch and kicked at the same time? Even if you know it's true would it make the attack more acceptable? It's an extreme example, but I'm not able to categorise different levels of injustice - I feel like I should be angry for them all.
I touched on this before, but this harks back to the last point for me. Would these people agree to get tattooed if their client asked them? Do you distinguish between different sexual and non-sexual acts? I know a lot of sex positive people and a handful of people in the sex industry who say they enjoy sex. They appear to have more choice than the people in the piece above, if they were in the piece would you view the piece in the same way? To me, the tattoo shows how little body autonomy they have.
It'll probably be mentioned. But there's lots we don't know about the people (or subject) of the piece. How did they get where they are now? Why do we judge them? What if they just liked the idea of being screened in galleries and museums worldwide?
To me, the questions and thoughts above come second to why has this piece moved me so much? As a feminist and body modification enthusiast, this piece looks at every idea that is important to me.
7/13/2013 | 0 comments | offline
I cannot help but feel it's time to leave the southern coast. I don't want to. But I feel like I should. I think about it often, however, I have never vocalised it. Seeing the words I have just typed made me lose my breath.
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I taste like Bread.
I am a staple in almost everyone's diet. Friends like me are a complement to any other friends I get on with almost everyone, remaining mostly in the background, but providing substance when it would otherwise be lacking. What Flavour Are You?
I am a Beret.
I am an art-house artist. I do things in unusual ways; if I were to make a movie, it would be notably 'independent'. If I were to make music, it would be 'experimental'. I may sometimes seem pretentious, but it's not a pretence. What Sort of Hat Are You?
I am, of course, none other than blank verse.
I don't know where I'm going, yes, quite right;
And when I get there (if I ever do)
I might not recognise it. So? Your point?
Why should I have a destination set?
I'm relatively happy as I am,
And wouldn't want to be forever aimed
Towards some future path or special goal.
It's not to do with laziness, as such.
It's just that one the whole I'd rather not
Be bothered - so I drift contentedly;
An underrated way of life, I find. What Poetry Form Are You?
I am Kong.
Strong and passionate, I tend to be misunderstood, sometimes even feared. I don't want to fight, I don't want to cause trouble, all I ask is a little love, and a little peace. If I don't get what I want, I get angry, and throw barrels and flaming oil at whatever's stopping me. What Video Game Character Are You?
7/12/2013 | 0 comments | offline
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