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MAPPING IDENTITY: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN IN OUT SPACE BY JESSICA BORUSKY A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Barry Freedland Sarasota, Florida May, 2009
ii Dedicated to Wal Mart. Without your return policy I would not have been able to finance my projects
iii Table of Contents Title Page i Dedication ii Table of Contents iii List of illustrations iv Abstract v Introduction 1 Legs as Site for In/out space 7 Sketchbook/journal Installation as Experience 12 Disembodied Voice as a Vehicle for In/out Space 16 Penetrative Performances 24 Conclusion 30 Works Cited 33 Plate List 34
iv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Fig. 1. Hannah Wilke So Help Me Hannah 1978 Film Still. Fig. 2. Carollee Schneemann, Interior Scroll 1975 Performance Still Fig. 3. Joan Semmel, Sunlight 1978 Oil on canvas. Fig. 4. Bruce Nauman, Fifteen Pairs of Hands 1996 F ig. 5. Bruce Nauman, Thighing 1967. Film still. Fig. 6. Hannah Wilke, Gestures 1976 Film Still. Fig. 7. Jessica Borusky, Sketchbook/journa l 2008. Mixed media installation. Fig. 8. Tracy Emin, Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963 1995 ,1995. Appliqu i nstallation. Fig. 9. Jessica Borusky, Fuck(w)hole 2008 Video projection and sound installation. Fig. 10. Annie Sprinkle, Untitled (Performance With Dildos) 1990's. Still from performance.
v MAPPING IDENTITY: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN IN/OUT SPACE Jessica Borusky New College of Florida, 2009 ABSTRACT In this thesis, I explore my identity and interactions between the audience and my work in three installations and thre e performances. I define inward/outward space as an interaction between something private or intimate with something public or distant that creates a dialogue or tension that makes an in between space. The installations include sculpture, painting, video and audio work. The performances involve an interplay between my body and a sculpture designed for my body's dimensions. Often there is a tension in my work between how I construct my identity and how others perceive it. I work with this tension by direct ly addressing the viewer in my installations through speech or written phrases. In doing this, I hope to inform the viewer about identity construction. My projects are in conversation with late 20th century American body, performance, and women artists. Th rough these installations and performances, I hope to create an interactive dialogue between the viewer and myself. Barry Freedland: Thesis Sponsor Division of Humanities
Jessica Borusky 1 INTRODUCTION "The personal is not always political and the autobiographical voice in women's art does not guarantee a feminist politics" (Merek 37). I have organized my thesis work into four different sections, all containing the common threads of identity mapping, performative qualities, and a way of exploring a relationship between in/outward space. I define inward/outward space as an interaction between something private or intimate with something public or distant that cre ates a dialogue or tension, which makes an in between space. At times, I refer to this interaction as "voyeuristic exhibitionism." Each project within my exhibition has its main objective in that tension or dialogue between two distinct places in order to establish that "in/outward" space between them. In/outward space is embodied in four forms, including: my legs, my journal/sketchbook installation, my voice, and performance. This organization is meant to create a larger narrative structure, one that br ings the viewer closer to my body through fragmentation. My legs function as site, the journal/sketchbook as experience, my voice as performance, and my performances as physical exploration. This overall installation is meant to allow my audience to know me and to push physical limits and personal boundaries between the viewer and myself. This tension is something that I will further explain as I discuss my projects individually. In this paper, I will also discuss my process, how projects fit into an art historical
Jessica Borusky 2 context, and how my work reflects and/or defies other artists who make similarly themed work. These artists include: Hannah Wilke, Carolee Schneeman, Bruce Nauman, Tracy Emin, Annie Sprinkle, and Joan Semmel. Foremost, it is important to contex tualize my own work within a greater art historical backdrop. It is helpful to organize the majority of own work using a late 20 th century art historical time line. More specifically, I will be drawing from ideas and work pertaining to women and body artis ts from the 1970's to present. Particularly, work that deals with: the body as intimate space and/or raw material; autobiographical information as its foundation, manipulation of the audience; and mapping personal identities. Since my artwork deals with m y body and issues like sexual relations, gender, performance, identity, and autobiographical material in art making, it is useful to consider my work within a feminist art practice that really came to fruition during the "second wave of the U.S. women's mo vement beginning in the 1970's" (McCann 15). Certain concepts and aesthetics developed during second wave feminism are part of a greater academic and artistic lexicon today. Core issues addressed during this time period included "female identity, and the w ays in which images, especially those of the body, shape that identity" (Doss 183). I will reference this tradition throughout the discussion of my work, attempting to place my work in conversation with it. That being said, I associate my work more with women's artwork from the mid 1980's to present more than "second wave" women artists. This is because feminist art from the 1970's dealt with the male gaze and the female body as it relates to the viewer, especially reclaiming the "body as subject"(Doss 1 84) in artwork. Post second wave
Jessica Borusky 3 feminism, that is to say the mid 1980's through present, is not concerned with reclaiming the female body. Due to a response from that earlier generation, women artists during this time "rejected being labeled feminist arti sts, objecting to its perceived marginalization of identity" (216). Meaning, women artists were less concerned with how women, as a group within society, were viewed and treated and more concerned with issues outside the sphere of women. The result was les s reactionary artwork. My projects reflect a specific relationship between my past and my present, my viewer and my fragmented body, which is similar to post second wave feminism because my work does not reflect a relationship between the female body, in general, and greater mainstream social, cultural, and psychological institutions. This is not to say, however, that my individuality is not made up of those greater institutions. The tension between my plight to define myself by my individual acts and past events and outside forces that define who I am is an interesting one. In the 1970's, artists like Hannah Wilke, Joan Semmel and Carolee Schneeman dealt with issues of subverting and challenging binary stereotypes. Some work was more successful than oth ers in this attempt. For example, Joan Semmel's paintings in which she paints from her perspective her own body were a bit more clear cut in intent than Hannah Wilke's, So Help Me Hannah 1978, (Fig.1) in which she explores seedy parts of New York City nak ed, holding a gun. Carolee Schneeman's, Interior Scroll 1975, (Fig. 2) challenges the male gaze through the corporeality of extracting a scroll from her vagina. These artists were working against, or at least reacting to, a larger oppressive force that wa s congruent with a greater cultural movement throughout American second
Jessica Borusky 4 wave feminism. Feminist art from the 1980's to present, however, deals with the body as a series of contradictions that are not female alone, and discovers how the body works in a my riad of ways, "digressing from earlier feminist explorations which reclaimed the body as a subject or celebrated its sexuality" (Doss 230). Furthermore, art in the 1990's focused on "identity politics, and the development of a less formulaic and didactic a pproaches to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual difference" (233). Artists emerging from the 1990's pursued more "intimate and contemplative works" (233), which produced more "open ended, and non quantifiable identities" (234). Instead of responding to or reacting against a greater oppressive force, women's art has turned to uncovering disconnecting and oppositional forces within the same body, allowing the body to be a place for conversation. Yet this art can still rely on a tension between private a nd public space that the 1970's feminist artists exploited in art making. However, the focus of private and public is no longer dependent on domestic settings and images of women. I align my work with artists and body artists such as, Tracy Emin and Bruce Nauman, who use their personal experiences in order to generate videos, paintings, installations, and performances in a way that does not necessarily depend on greater institutions or forces to react to particularly. For example, unlike the 1970's feminis t artists that I mentioned, Bruce Nauman and Tracy Emin's work is motivated by personal experience or a desire to work with the limits of their own bodies. Those 1970's women artists' work is motivated by a response to social and cultural institutions. Add itionally, I
Jessica Borusky 5 will discuss these artists more as I explain particular projects. Importantly, the reason why I need to consider 1970's women artists in relation to my work is because my audience has some understanding of feminist art. This is due to 1970's feminist art becoming a part of an art historical tradition. Furthermore, feminist art seems to have a conceptual connection throughout its history rather than an aesthetic or materials based one. Meaning, artwork that deals female related concepts can b ecome feminist, rather than a way sculpture or paintings are produced. And since my artwork has conceptual connections rather than aesthetic ones, my audience tends to read my work in terms of feminism, regardless of my intentions. I consider my work, i ncluding my two dimensional work, to be performative, meaning, the audience needs to do or feel something specific in order for my pieces to meet their objectives. And because of that quality, I take my audience into consideration when I design projects. O ften there are several types of audiences in my work. The first is myself, as I am creating from autobiographical information and my body; the second type is a part of the audience that my pieces, particularly in the audio room, speak to directly, which I call the primary audience; the third type is a secondary audience which can watch the primary audience; the fourth is a constructed audience, which my primary and secondary audiences often think of and create when seeing my work; and the fifth audience con sists of members which are not a direct target in my work. Although, through my pieces, this audience can shift into feeling differently gendered or sexually oriented while engaging with my work. For this audience, I use Laura Mulvey's concept of the hete rosexual female
Jessica Borusky 6 viewer in male oriented narrative cinema. She recalls a Freudian experience happening to the female viewer when watching these films. Meaning, the female viewer uncovers hidden desires often not expressed or exposed in daily life and this s lips into a masculinized position when she identifies with the male protagonist. "The woman spectator in the cinema can make use of an age old cultural tradition adapting her to this convention, which eases a transition out of her own sex into another" (32 ). Though I am not suggesting a repressed fantasy becoming active for my audience, I am suggesting that my audience does undergo a transition into another sexuality or gender that is not their own outside of the context of my work. The site for my thesis was another important factor in my work. I chose empty motel rooms that used to serve as a dorm for the college. Placing my work here physically separated my four sections into easily digestible compartments. The motel's deserted, dingy, and seedy quality also enhanced some of the sexual and violent undertones in my work. For example, in the leg room, my disembodied legs took on new violent undertones when placed in the motel room. My sketchbook/journal installation felt like a crime scene when inside the second room. The sexuality of my bed installation and voice performances was enhanced when viewed in the motel. The secrecy and anonymity of the motel room also added to my work. Since I use a confessional style in some of my projects, the motel rooms defi nitely added to the voyeuristic exhibitionism in my work. Throughout this written discussion, I hope to explain how my installations and performances work. Meaning, how my pieces relate to a greater art historical, specifically
Jessica Borusky 7 a feminist art making, con text. Also, how my pieces connect to one another using various audience related tactics more than a single unifying aesthetic style, and how they impact the viewer and communicate my objectives. All of my projects relate to a similar relationship or tensi on between some kind of inward existence and an outward one: whether that is visual, a conversation between the viewer, and myself or with my body and a sculpture. Furthermore, all my work reflects, in some form or another, a mapping or compilation of my i dentity. MY LEGS AS A SITE FOR IN/OUTWARD SPACE I want the audience to begin in this room in order to see the simplest version of the relationship between in/outward space that I am trying to construct. I consider the leg projects the most basic form of that relationship because it uses an easily identifiable space in order to define that relationship the space between and around my legs vs. the space my legs take up. I have executed four different projects in order to explore how my legs are a site fo r a relationship between in/outward space. These projects include: a set of four paintings of my legs as landscape, a set of four woodcuts of my legs as abstract forms, a series of leg casts, and one video. Aesthetically, each project is different, but the y all try to uncover a relationship between in/outward space. Using several techniques, I explore how my legs are a site for inward/outward space. These techniques include narrative design using simple shapes or lines in order to cut through a particula r area and create an exploration of forms. This emerges as either the given surrounding space cutting into the legs or the legs penetrating upward into the
Jessica Borusky 8 surrounding space. These techniques create a landscape and abstraction of my legs. In using my legs as a way to explore a relationship between inward and outward spaces, I invite the viewer to see how their body is also a site for dichotomous relationships, often contradictory. I show my legs as appearing in a penetrative position by abstracting the sha pe of them to something that exerts itself into its given space, rather than using my legs as opening up for the surrounding area (or, presumably, body) to move into. Importantly, I choose how to represent my legs through cropping them at my crotch or le aving my feet out. I want my legs viewed as their own object, not necessarily being bound to a relationship to my vagina or my feet, but their own entity. I am not denying any sexuality in depicting my legs; I just want to layer that concept into a greater map of identity, rather than only exploiting sexuality. By using my own perspective in order to capture the image of my legs, I am also reinforcing my relationship to my body and my relationship to the viewer. I position myself as active in sharing my b ody; in that, I represent my body from the way I see it. When the viewer engages with my legs pieces, that they are viewing my legs from my perspective, taking on my relationship to my body. Depicting my legs from my own perspective, is different though, from artists such as Joan Semmel, who was also interested in representing the perspective of her own body, as in the example of Joan Semmel's, Sunlight 1978, (Fig. 3). Semmel challenged how to read painting of women, generally. My work is not a clear cut response to how women are shown in art history; rather, it is a way of exploring my body as both
Jessica Borusky 9 emotional subject and abstracted object. It cannot be denied that by depicting my legs through painting, video, and sculpture, I am in conversation with femin ist art histories dealing with how women are viewed, but it is not my overarching goal to challenge those patriarchal institutions and social norms in representing my legs. Rather, I see my work reflecting objectives that are closer to some of Bruce Nauma n's work. Bruce Nauman's Fifteen Pairs of Hands 1996, (Fig. 4) as well as the video Thighing 1967, (Fig.5), works with the body as sculptural material, manipulating it either through touching, as in the video, or in repetition as in Fifteen Pairs of Hand s (Fig.4). In manipulating his body in different ways, the viewer sees how the body takes on a range of familiar and unfamiliar images. And though Nauman explores his body through repetition or manipulation, challenging familiar ways of seeing the body, t he female body in representation still seems more complicated than the male body in artistic representation. Part of this complication comes from the way we, as a culture are trained to look. Again, I use Mulvey as a way to describe that trained way of l ooking. In Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema she describes women displayed in traditional film to function as "erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as erotic object for the spectator within the auditorium" (19). This eroticis m happens through a few visual tactics; one includes disembodying the female form. "Conventional close ups of legs, or a face integrate into the narrative a different mode of eroticism." This makes women "isolated, glamorous, on display, sexualized" (20). If using this model for how we, as a culture, look at the female body, I must acknowledge the fact that my fragmented legs are
Jessica Borusky 10 the first thing the viewer encounters in my exhibition, similar to how women are introduced in traditional film. Therefore, I c annot deny any eroticism the viewer sees in this first room. I would like to note that although I use discussion of the "gaze" in order to help me materialize my concepts, challenging or defying the gaze is not a central objective in my leg projects. Unl ike second wave feminist art that used that concept in order to create artwork, I understand the gaze to be a part of a greater art making lexicon, but not utilizing it as a strong central theme in my pieces used here. Hannah Wilke seemed to bridge the g ap between using her form, female, and turning that form into sculptural material successfully in Gestures 1974, (Fig.6). Even though she is conventionally attractive, she is able to bypass those initial ideas about her beauty through continuing to explor e her face as material. As the film continues, her face looks more like sculpting clay and less like her features. This has the potential to also bypass issues of narcissism, in that, when playing with her face she does not admire it, she simply moves it a round. My leg projects aim at those same ideas: though not entirely escaping sexuality, they become different ways to understand the body as form, shape, and line; love hate relationships within the same body, the body and its relationship to others, etc As a site for a relationship between in/outward space, the viewer is meant to feel uncomfortable and interested. This juxtaposition creates what I can "voyeuristic exhibitionism," a term relating to a calculated way of showing my body and its reception. I am inviting, wanting the viewer to look at my body in an intimate way, creating a situation where, normally,
Jessica Borusky 11 the viewer would be a voyeur, but because I am inviting this type of looking in my work, I am showing my body in an exhibitionistic way. This ter m also suggests another form of in/outward space, since I am constructing and manipulating a situation where the viewer feels invasive looking at intimate imagery. Since I acknowledge that the legs are mine/objects, one issue that remains prevalent in wo rking with my legs as material is the fact that my legs will always be female. Even if Nauman commodifies himself with video and creates a situation where the viewer gazes and objectifies his body with sculpture, he does not have issues of commodification, the sex industry, the gaze, objectification, etc. in his work. This difference has to do with cultural contexts and conditioning that the audience brings to my work. I am not suggesting that the male body in art is exempt from particular gendered associat ions, it is just that those associations are different than those attached to the female body in art. Moreover, some of that difference certainly today does come from second wave feminist artwork that focused on that dichotomy in art making and art history But the question remains in viewing my legs as both female and forms: do my objectives and choices accurately match the outcomes? Depending on the type of audience, as I described in my introduction, the outcome for this question will be different. Som e people feel as though using my legs as this site for in/outward space is fetishizing legs as a phallus. To quickly digress in order to define that term: Lacan placed the highest value on the phallus as the signifier extraordinaire, the centerpiece of the symbolic order. Although he was generally careful not to equate the phallus with the literal penis, he believed that men and women have a very different relationship to the phallus, which signifies what men have and what women lack (Mitchell 203)
Jessica Borusky 12 Becau se I use traditional "gaze" techniques in my leg video: panning camera shots of my legs, cutting the images off at the crotch, close ups of my skin and spaces to resemble vaginas; some people in my audience see this as pornography; meaning, the images I us e in my artwork resemble images associated with sex industries and commodification of sex and, therefore, believe that I am reinforcing a sexualization of the female body. Other audience members focus on the constructed audience, wondering who in the crowd will "take this the wrong way." I understand that I cannot completely divorce myself from my body, moreover, that I cannot divorce readings of phallic or pornographic imagery from my leg projects. Instead of avoiding this tension, I embrace it because it ultimately makes an interesting dynamic in my work, particularly in this first room, which uses representation of my body. This tension is part of the reason I do accept multiple and contradictory readings of this work. SKETCHBOOK/JOURNAL INSTALLATION AS E XPERIENCE Adults and children sometimes have boards in their bedrooms or living rooms on which they pin pieces of paper, letters, snapshots, reproductions of paintings, newspaper cuttings, original drawings, postcards. On each board all the images belong t o the same language and all are more or less equal within it, because they have been chosen in a highly personal way to match and express the experience of the room's inhabitant (Berger 33). In this second section, the audience leaves a room where my le gs act as a tool and site for voyeuristic exhibitionism and into a room where delayed intimacies surround them. In moving from one room to another, the audience not only approaches my identity in a different way, but also gets closer to me through text and objects. In the first room, the in/outward space depended on, predominately, a sexual voyeuristic exhibitionism; in
Jessica Borusky 13 this room the in/outward space occurs differently, in a more confessional way. This shift creates a closer encounter between the audience a nd myself because it draws on images, text, and objects that come directly from my past in order to shape my identity today rather than simply utilizing one component of my body in order to communicate ideas about identity with my viewer. An example of thi s installation: Jessica Borusky, Sketchbook/journal 2008, (Fig. 7). By placing very personal images and thoughts into a public space, I am creating an experience where the intimate or inward is in dialogue with the public or outward. In this experience, the viewer is not only privy to my thoughts and images of my past, but my current response to those images. This complete installation displays objects and images ranging from childhood through college. This makes the viewer feel as though they are walking into my thought process when interacting with the total piece. Layers of self awareness and self exploration are employed through showing various sketchbooks and mementos and responding textually and visually to my thoughts and keepsakes from the past. It is constructing identity and a personal history through layers of constantly changing viewpoints of events and reexamining myself. This dialogue between myself represents how I will potentially respond to the work I am doing now will these things that I see as so important today become childish and fleeting later on in my life? My sketchbook installation seems to suggest, yes, they will. I am fine with this. I see that as a part of this process growing in and out of the narratives I carve for myself m aking new identities and revelations along the way. Tracy Emin has worked with autobiographical information in order to create
Jessica Borusky 14 installation works, as well. However, her installations focus on coming to terms with her past. I use my autobiographical inform ation to understand myself presently; focusing on how I am never a static figure my self portrait is constantly under construction. Emin's work also relies on similar materials within a single installation. For example, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 196 3 1995 1995, (Fig. 8) is made with appliqu only rather than a collection of materials. Both Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963 1995 (Fig. 8) and my installation (Fig. 7) evoke a sense of privacy in a public setting, but her ability to depict those int imacies through a single medium is quite different from my borderline obsessive collecting of personal artifacts. Moreover, Tracy Emin's desire to conjure up grave situations in her past has associated her work with victim art. This victimization in her a rt has been a distinctive feature that emerges in most of her pieces. "Emin gives to that earlier self the opportunity to speak back through her art, a means of resistance against her former silencing, and thus gives form and narrative to an experience, th at was, at the time, unspeakable" (Merek 27). The author pities her, and in doing so, suggests how Emin's audience responds similarly. I do not want my audience to feel pity when encountering my work. Rather, I want my audience to see my confessional styl e approach as a form of constantly reworking narratives, placing them outside of their comfort zones in order to reflect on, perhaps, their own personal narratives. I use my autobiographical material as a vehicle for change in myself, inciting my audience to acknowledge change within themselves. Emin and I both reconstruct our past in tangible forms. Emin frequently uses images, objects, and materials from her own life to address difficult subjects such as rape and abortion, but her work consciously rewor ks her "life story" as a set of narratives and memories. She produces her life as a series
Jessica Borusky 15 of texts in a deliberately unrefined autobiographical form, aiming at immediacy and intimacy in relation to herself and her early sexual experiences. What the viewer s of Emin's work see is a form of discourse constructed from, but not identical with, the experience it recalls (Merek 27). Interestingly, in addressing Emin's capabilities to re work her life stories, the issues of rape and abortion are immediately addr essed. In my work, I find it much more fascinating and digestible to have curious and often unsettling undertones rather than overt confession. That is because I am interested in the viewer's role in the project. Their participation is necessary because, u ltimately, I think of all of my projects as performative, and therefore, need that audience to communicate with in order to complete my objectives. Now, I think there is no doubt Emin, too, is dependent on an audience in order to communicate her stories. H owever, I am very clear in my need for the audience when I directly address their presence in my work; whereas, Emin seems to be less interested in directly addressing the audience as an active part of her art making. Her work is "not so much a form of exh ibitionism as a counter aesthetic, a conscious reclamation of female identity and sexuality" (Merek 30). Emin's tent installation is referred to as an "experience of revelation"(34) and those tragic experiences remained a focus that she "returned to agai n and again as a catharsis" (29). Emin's pieces work as a catharsis for herself more than directly inciting dialogues from her audience. My pieces are somehow in between catharsis and empathy, in that, the confessional style of the sketchbook installation gives me, the artist, a kind of catharsis, but I also do employ an exhibitionism that requires the audience to react in order for my performance through this installation to become active. My personal artifacts and thoughts made not only public, but exhi bitionist, in my
Jessica Borusky 16 sketchbook/journal installation generates an experience that shows my identity as something that changes and dependent on outward forces, making this installation a conversation between inward and outward space between my past and my pres ent and between myself and the viewer, how I construct myself and how others perceive me. MY DISEMBODIED VOICE AS A VEHICLE FOR CREATING IN/OUTWARD SPACE The female voice is often shown to coexist with the female body only at the price of it s own impoverishment and entrapment. Feminist filmmaking tends to pull away from any fixed locus within the image track away from the constraints of synchronization (Silverman 141). In this room the viewer interacts with my disembodied voice in a way that creates a bridge between the installation of the last room and the direct performances in the next room. This bridge occurs due to the way the viewer interacts with these pieces. The viewer is one step closer to my physical body, in that, the image of my face is present in this room, and my voice becomes activated through listening on headphones or in the bed, in the case of Me in Bed With You. Even though the subject matter that I work with in this room is incredibly personal, the viewer still receives a portion of my identity due to a separation of voice and body. Most of my inspiration for this section comes from The Acoustic Mirror In the book, Kaja Silverman explores how women's identity in film becomes more in depth through manipulation and separat ion of the female voice and body. Through disembodiment, the voice can take on its own performance, making the viewer change the way they view the female body in film. Because our culture is so heavily dependent
Jessica Borusky 17 on visuals in order to receive information, films focusing on the voice in order to carry information or a performance, make an audience work to imagine and create a body, ultimately challenging ways we digest film and identity. For this section I disembody my voice in three ways. The first is a f ilm installation entitled Fuck(w)hole, 2008, (Fig. 9) the second is an interactive sculpture Me in Bed With You and the third is an audio recording entitled Audiograph(me) How my disembodied voice fits into the greater relationship between in/outward spa ce is interesting. In these projects, my voice speaks directly to the viewer, expelling personal information and feelings in a confessional way making an intimate interaction between my voice and the listener. However, since I also create situations where this intimate interaction is exploited for a greater audience to view the listener listening, I bring that intimacy outside of itself, creating a unique circumstance between inward or intimate and outward or distant space. Fuck(w)hole In Fuck(w)hole ( Fig. 9), I repeat the phrases "fuck me" and "fuck you" in a narrative structure, going through a series of chosen emotions in a performance for video. For the first video, Fuckme, the lists of emotions to be acted out were: neutral, sexual, forceful, angry remorseful, unbelievable, funny, ownership. For the second video, Fuckyou my emotional spectrum included: neutral, funny, pained, forceful, angry, upset, sadness, and ownership. Once filmed, the audio was separated from the video so that when watching t he film the viewer hears nothing and while listening to the audio, the viewer sees nothing. This separation creates two different performances for the viewer,
Jessica Borusky 18 each lacking the other part. The viewer also feels surrounded by information and emotion, but tha t feeling works in two distinct ways; one that relies on the vocal life of the performance and the other that relies on facial expressions. The disembodied voice becomes a way for inward/outward space to exist by creating a gap in how the viewer receives i nformation. In the listening half, intimacy occurs through talking directly to the viewer, saying "fuck me" or "fuck you", but since there is no body to place that voice onto in a synchronized fashion, the listener is feels like something is missing. Likew ise, this happens when the viewer sees an emotional image, but hears nothing. This is a frustrating experience because one half is missing in each part. Moreover, since other people can view the person listening to the audio, there is a secondary audien ce that can see the direct listener as a performer. This performance creates a place where inward or intimate space and outward or public space can exist simultaneously. Different audience types also play a vital role in this project in order to create t hat inward/outward space. The most interesting is the transgendered audience. Though the project conjures up all sorts of feelings among the audience, including sexual abuse and sexual commodification (like the leg video), there is a strong current of sexu ality that seems to draw the viewer into the installation whether or not the viewer is attracted to women. These qualities about Fuck(w)hole (Fig. 9) make the viewer recognize or, at least entertain: their own desires, low and angry moments, sexual orien tation, and personal experiences. While everyone who participates in the installation can identify with certain aspects of the performance, the effect of the installation is a personal one. So,
Jessica Borusky 19 while most people feel that undercurrent of sexuality in the p roject, everyone in the audience will reflect on their own relationship to that feeling differently. Me in Bed With You This is an interactive sculpture in which the audience gets into a bed, and upon stepping over to it, sets off a voice recording of m e speaking as if I were in the bed next to the viewer. I use intimate, though not overtly sexual, phrases that are spoken directly to the listener, making sure not to denote a specific gender. The viewer feels intimacy between my recorded voice and themsel ves, but exposed to the rest of the audience, who can view that particular audience member in the bed. Like the audio for Fuck(w)hole (Fig. 9) there are two audiences, the primary one who is in the bed listening to the audio track, and the secondary one w hich views the audience member in the bed. The inward space exists in the bed: between my voice and the audience member listening, and the outward space happens when the secondary audience watches on. Furthermore, that inward bed space can only be activate d through the outward audience space penetrating it. Meaning, in order for my voice recording to turn on, an audience member must get into the bed. Potentially, this project is designed for the heterosexual male viewer or the homosexual female viewer, an d can exclude the heterosexual female and the homosexual male; however, I think that, because of this, the audience becomes multi tiered. This multi tiered audience is the initial heterosexual male or homosexual female, and then the heterosexual female and /or homosexual male. The latter cannot be affected directly in this project, but becomes that transgendered audience which cloaks as the initial audience
Jessica Borusky 20 in order to understand the piece. These categories, heterosexual female and homosexual male, go togeth er for the purposes of this project because they function as the other since they are not directly affected by the piece like that initial group. The effect of this installation will be different, though not completely lost, in the transgendered audience. This is the case because my recording becomes a stand in for relationships in general. This creates a distinct experience that has different outcomes depending on the audience member. However, I do not want to necessarily lump together the heterosexual female and the homosexual male, because though they each go through a different transformation by attributing the qualities of that initial audience. Meaning, what the heterosexual female undergoes in understanding this installation is different than the h omosexual male due to the fact that they are different in gender and sexual orientation. Audiograph(me) The stories we tell ourselves about who we are; the half remembered events and places which shape our lives are the foundations on which we build up a sense of self. Re working what has already happened, we also give it current meaning for history always represents the present as much as the past. In the conventional form of autobiography, a line is traced from childhood to the achievement of an a dult identity that is conceived as an endpoint, as the resolution of choices made and obstacles overcome however convoluted the journey. Feminist writing of the self, on the contrary, resembles unfinished business often taking the form of a series of momen ts between present and past, self and other, towards the production of an identity that is still in process (Betterton 173). In Audiograph(me) I discuss major events in my life thus far, interspersing them with strange observations about my sexuality creativity, mood swings, and relationships. The idea is an autobiography pieced together using past events and present responses to them in order to map of myself today. By including thoughts or observations about
Jessica Borusky 21 myself currently, the autobiography will not follow a traditional narrative structure. In this way, I hope to illustrate how the (my)self is always changing, and how even though events may happen in one's life, they are not static and have the ability to be parts of someone, not the whole. Li ke Fuck(w)hole ,(Fig. 9) and Me in Bed With You Audiograph(me) is meant to communicate with multiple audiences' parts of my identity and create an inward/outward space that exists through the disembodied voice. Audiograph(me) is similar to the confessiona l and response style of the Sketchbook/journal (Fig.7) installation. In this installation, four cd players will play each part of the autobiographical/response performance. So that if an audience member listens to the first player, but does not listen t o all the tapes, they may not get the whole performance, or may hear a certain part repeated if they listen at random. Because of this choice, the audience gets parts and pieces of the story and must either add those moments together in order to make a coh esive narrative themselves, or accept that there may not be a cohesive narrative. Moreover, if multiple people are listening at the same time, they will not be listening to the same part of the story, so if they talk about the project together, they will h ave different components of the narrative. When recording the first tape, I noted that depending on the time and day of the recording, my perception of my own history would change, making my own narrative change. For the next three tapes, I followed this idea, constructing stories that included original material and my responses to the initial information on the first tape. The third tape would include responses to the second tape responding to the first responding to the
Jessica Borusky 22 original. In doing this, I show how identity constantly changes and my own narrative is not entirely set in stone since I will always change and grow, as I realized even over the course of two months. Overlapping my original tape helps obscure some of the more shocking parts of my life, so that the tapes are not a focus on any victim hood I may have acquired in my life. This project is meant to feel similar to the sketchbook installation, as if I were to have that installation up for several months, responding to what I have already ref lected on. Interestingly, if I extend the project out over my lifetime, the tapes would continue to change. This is something I want to explore what becomes useless over time, what doesn't? How will I feel in the future about how I feel now about my past? What will be the new events that make up my autobiographical tapestry? Etc. Since the tapes deal with heavy subject matter abuse, emotional health, and sexual experiences in particular, Tracy Emin's work is a point of comparison. However, a difference between her work and mine is how we each position ourselves in regard to these events. Emin tends to evoke sympathy from her projects, due to her "tell all" aesthetic, using "graphic Margate vernacular" (Merek 27) in order to tell her stories. I try to sta y away from that reading by transcending those events, moreover, weaving those events into a greater map of who I am rather than isolating each event. However, I do understand that some members in my audience will read this material as shocking, namely due to the fact that people in my audience come from different backgrounds, but the counterpoint to this is that some members in the audience may find these events mundane. Either way, my emphasis continues to be on how I have moved past these
Jessica Borusky 23 events rather than those events being the cornerstone of several of my projects. In this section my disembodied voice as a vehicle for inward/outward space, I use intimacy in order to generate a one on one experience with the viewer. Since many of my projects deal w ith sexuality, it is helpful using Annie Sprinkle as a reference. For example, Sprinkle uses overt "in your face" sexuality in her shows in order to bring up cultural issues with sex. Often, Sprinkle takes sexual experiences and exploits in performance in order to call into question greater sex based institutions. Sprinkle creates discomfort and humor in her shows because she often acts in ways that her viewers find normally uncomfortable. For instance, in Annie Sprinkle's Untitled (Performance With Dildos) 1990's, (Fig. 10) she performs fellatio on a line of dildos in front of an audience. This performance is meant to question the marketability of sex as well as acts within the sex industry and among sexual partners, while at the same time, making her view ers think about or critique their own relationship to sex. I am not as interested in the sex industry. I am interested in making a strange experience between my body (whether it be my legs or voice), and the viewer in an intimate way. The objective relie s on how I affect one person at a time rather than a group of people all at once. Some people in my audience do tend to think about sex based industries when they see my work, but this response is not what influences my initial concepts. An interesting i ssue, however, is the fact that I am aware of my sexuality and do use it as a tool to create a strange place for the viewer in my work. Like the leg room, I cannot deny the inherent sexuality involved in these projects; furthermore, cultural
Jessica Borusky 24 contexts that my audience brings to these projects. I understand that, especially in Fuck(w)hole (Fig. 9) my projects do, to some extent, reflect those greater cultural ideas. However, in Audiograph(me) I navigate away from those contexts by speaking directly to the li stener about my personal experiences and responses to them without inciting sexual undertones. PENETRATIVE PERFORMANCES After moving through all rooms beginning with my legs, moving to my installation and to my disembodied voice, the audience ends the e xhibition with my performances. This choice works in two ways; the first is that the audience, at the end, can see and experience my body in full form after only receiving parts of my body and identity throughout the other rooms, and the second is that aft er seeing and reading and listening to parts of my body, my voice, my past, and my identity they can put that on me upon seeing my physical body. This twofold experience is both exciting and problematic. There is a sense of build up to this sequence, almo st climaxing(?) upon seeing my actual body. However, pity or martyrdom could happen by seeing my body after hearing and seeing a lot of really intense material. I have not entirely reconciled this tension yet. In this category, I explore, physically and f irsthand, the relationship between in/outward space. In these performances I move through an object in order to create interesting shapes with my body and dialogue between the structure and myself. The first performance involves my body creating a mortis a nd tenon joint with a piece of wood, the second is a tunnel made of steel which I crawl through, and the third is a steel box
Jessica Borusky 25 that I crawl inside. Wood In this performance, I move my body through a piece of wood with a hole cut through it large eno ugh for my body to fit into. The wood's color matches my skin and is heavy, acting as an extension and burden of my body as I push through the hole in various positions. I create joints that make interesting shapes and forms. In using my own body to penetr ate the object, I create a performance of inward and outward space, moving in and out of the wood. Like the leg depictions as well as the Fuck(w)hole performance, I utilize a series of shapes or emotions that create a type of narrative. This narrative esta blishes a foundation for my movement. The color of the wood works, aesthetically, as a kind of extension of my body and the weight of the wood works as an opposition to my body. For this performance, I transition movements in a plotted way standing, ut ilizing all the gestures that I can in that position, bending, kneeling, laying on my back, sitting, finally bending to standing again. For this project, it was just as matter of how each shape looked within the narrative. Conceptually, a few things occ ur during this performance. The first is a relationship between the weight of the wood and my body. At certain times in the performance, I have more control over the wood, and at others, the wood seems to have more control over me. In the simple gestures i t is definitely the former, in more complex, the latter. This control dynamic resembles penetration. Who, for example, in terms of interpersonal relationships, dominates the interaction? The penetrator or pentetratee?
Jessica Borusky 26 How are we defining penetration? In my performance I show a literal example of penetration. Referring back to ideas of socially constructed ways of looking and seeing, is it always the voyeur who dominates the situation or can the object of sight respond through exhibitionism? In this piece I suggest that, yes, penetration can be a relationship in which both parties give and take. Another concept in this performance regards which parts of my body are seen through the wood. When I use one arm or my legs to push through the wood, the motion is controlled, and my body parts are isolated and fragmented. However, when the wood cuts through the center of my body or my head pushes through the hole, the picture denotes a splitting of myself or sacrificing in order to create a position. There seems to be more of a commitment when I push my torso or head through the wood rather than my arm or legs, perhaps suggesting a need for dominance even though it is harder to position my head or torso through the wood. Tunnel This performance explores move ment in a small space. I push through a steel tunnel, contorting my body in order to get to the end. The tunnel is wrapped in shower curtain plastic, creating a self enclosed space within a larger space the room. The narrative for this piece is simply to g et to the other side of the tunnel. Though I am in a diminutive position (the tunnel is on the ground), I demand attention through the length of the tunnel (30 ft) and how my body moves through it. The contrast between the intimate space of my tunnel and t he greater room that it is in, creates a relationship between inward/outward spaces. Like the wood, the tunnel is meant for my body size and
Jessica Borusky 27 shape, reflecting my body's relationship to the material as well as the strengths and weaknesses of my own body; be coming a kind of self portrait. The most predominant image this performance creates is birth. Though this is not how I wish this performance to be read, I cannot deny that quality: I get into the tunnel, push through it while sweating and breathing heavy, and then I emerge from the other side. Ways to combat this imagery include making this performance more sexualized how I am breathing, perhaps moving; and how I get into and out of the tunnel, do I jump into it, run out of it, am I triumphant when exiting or depleted? These slight changes shift the performance from being about birth to about my relationship to the material and my body. For my thesis show, I chose to utilize the architecture of the motel room. I began at one end of the room and crawled un der the closet and out through the door. In using the room that way, I also reminded the audience of where they were, and connected them back to the rest of the show. Using the preexisting architecture also helped to navigate the audience away from ideas a bout birthing. Box The last performance in this series is meant to feel like a dead end. In this performance I push myself into a steel box also wrapped in shower curtain plastic and stay in that box for the rest of the evening. Here the audience c an stay as long or as little as they want, but the audience determines the end of the performance. Unlike the other performances where I have a final end point determined by me, this performance is dependant on outside forces/ audience. This dependence on the audience to activate a part
Jessica Borusky 28 of the performance is similar to the bed installation, but instead of turning the performance on, the audience stops it. This change in how the audience interacts with the material makes this performance more inward than th e bed sculpture, using the audience to end it rather than start it; since I begin the performance by getting inside the box. Like the tunnel, the box performance connotes birthing because my body in the box can look like a fetus. This can be altered, too depending on how I sit inside the box. Also, I dispel issues of birthing by performing with the box an hour after the tunnel. The sculptures look minimal until I use them with my body. So, for a relationship between in/outward space to occur, I need to penetrate each sculpture in order to make that relationship happen. Because I interrupt the minimal structure with my body, the penetration can be seen as a response to minimalism. The box also reflected the room it was in because it could be seen on th e sliding glass doors of the motel room. This image reminded the audience that anyone outside could easily see activity inside the box like room, reflecting their viewing of me in the box. By having this duel image, the performance referenced the voyeurist ic exhibitionism of the first room. These penetrative performances work differently than my other sections within the exhibition. They are more inward, in that (despite the box performance), they rely less on the audience in order to activate the materia l. For example, in the leg room, without the viewer positioned as voyeur, my exhibitionistic depictions of my legs do not function accurately. Meaning, I need the audience in order to activate that experience. The same idea applies for my sketch book insta llation when I directly address the audience by
Jessica Borusky 29 writing to them, asking them for advice or to consider something I am confessing to them. In the audio room, in order to any of those projects to come to life, the audience needs to listen to headphones or in teract with the pieces to make the "performances" happen. This is not the case in the direct performances, which lends an interesting element to the show. Why, when the performance is direct, is it not as important for the audience to engage with the mate rial? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere behind my reasoning to not use any words or phrases in these performances. Since I am showing and confessing so much of myself in the other rooms, I felt that using any kind of vocal narrative would be too charged w hen the audience finally watched my body in real time. I want to be seen more as a part of the sculpture, object; but not to be confused with the concept of objectification, like the dynamic that happens in the leg room. For the purposes of this project, I found it extremely difficult to add any kind of words or phrases to the performances in this context without them being extremely weighty. The choice to not speak during the performances, however, evokes a "general" body that I am representing, similar to that of the first room. If I do not make any vocal indication that this is a personal experience for my body, how does the viewer see my body and does my body stand in for a general body? Though there is no vocal addition to the performance, the fact th at each prop is designed with my body shape in mind contributes to making the performance personal. The wood is cut out to fit my body, the width and height of the tunnel is designed to challenge my body, and the box is made to hold my body uncomfortably i nside it. These details ensure a specific body material
Jessica Borusky 30 relationship that serves to make these performances about my body and not a general body. CONCLUSION(?) Three main components arise in my exhibition. The first is connecting my aesthetically differe nt projects to one another through that relationship between "inward/outward" space. The second component is how my work relates, or does not, to a greater feminist art making practice. Lastly, my objectives for each piece work with the audiences that rece ive them; whether or not my objectives are executed accurately, and whether or not that is important. How do these projects create that relationship between in/outward space most effectively? Meaning, which ones invite the audience into a voyeuristic exhib itionism that challenges their own cultural understandings of identity: the past, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. Which projects reference that relationship but fall short of transcending those cultural contexts? In terms of a feminist art hi story, what makes my artwork align with women's art and what about my artwork does not fit into that category? Is it necessary to be at odds with feminist art making, or is there another way of understanding my art in relation to that history? Another conc ern is if I do not relate to feminist artwork, why do I rely on how art historians describe feminist art work in order to discuss and contextualize my own work better? I use Betterton's discussion on the differences between feminist narratives and non fem inist narratives as a way of aligning my own material and process somewhere in that scope of work, furthermore, I use Silverman's argument on how feminist films work
Jessica Borusky 31 in order to discuss my audio pieces. Both writers specifically use the term feminist in or der to differentiate between mainstream work and women artists, so why am I so uncomfortable with aligning my own work in that greater tradition? Mostly, it is because while my work does reflect, and I admit is inspired by, some feminist concepts, I do not have the same political based ends. As I mentioned in the introduction, the reason why it is important to consider feminist artwork with my own is due to the tradition of feminist art in the later 20 th century. My audience brings this context to my work, and therefore, I feel compelled to explain why my artwork is not akin to 1970's women's art. Certainly, I am not discounting the importance of second wave feminist art, but I do need to separate myself from those artists because my intentions are quite di fferent. In regard to the audience, which projects are more open for multiple results? Which are more closed? Why is openness and closeness important for this cumulative exhibition? Within this issue is one of another type of in/outward space; how I creat e my identity through these projects and how my identity is understood. How do my choices within each project reflect that creation and how do other choices cause similar and/or different understanding with my identity. It is not necessary for these proje cts to work perfectly as I imagine them. When bodies and performance and the personal and sexual are involved you cannot predict fully how the audience will receive and understand the work, but there are ways to control or narrow down that response. And, i n doing so, produce artwork that considers as much as possible. I try to do that in these pieces by configuring multiple audiences, a cultural
Jessica Borusky 32 context that those audiences come from, how my artwork relates to an art history, and how I consider my own ident ity in these projects. Yet all this consideration might be moot. My audience sees my work as having a "personal is political" quality. For example, after I do a performance, people are compelled to talk to me about their bodies, about their sexuality, ab out their secrets. They see my work as empowering them, as allowing them to reflect on themselves. And there is something political and radical about that. But that is not the reason I perform. So which is correct? My viewer or myself? My work addresses a need for the viewer in order to complete my identity, but I am calculated in that need. I reflect on how my identity can be made up of these inward/outward spaces: how I construct myself, my work, and how those are digested. There is a real tension betw een how I create myself and how I am seen. This tension can also bee seen as a "double image": my body and the general body that my body ultimately represents. And, like my voyeuristic exhibitionism and wood performance, there is a give and take involved i n order to create a particular experience, relationship, situation, and/or space. It is not one sided, it is not either/or, it is not in or out, but that tension in between that I am interested in. But, of course, this is what I am interested in now, who knows how I will feel about in a month or two in a few years...
! "#$$%&'!()*+$,! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .. WORKS CITED 1. Betterton, Rosemary. Intimate Distance Routledge: New York, 2001. 2. Berger, John. Ways of Seeing Penguin Books: New York, 1972. 3. Doss, Erika. Twentieth Century American Art Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2002. 4. McCann, Feminist T heory Reader Routledge: New York, 2003. 5. Merek, Mandy. The Art of Tracy Emin Thames and Hudson, ltd: London, 2002. 6. Mitchell, Stephen Freud and Beyond: A History Of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought Basic Books: New York, 1995. 7. Mulvey, Laura Visu al and Other Pleasures Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 1989. 8. Silverman, Kaja The Acoustic Mirror Indiana University press: Bloomington, 1988.
Jessica Borusky 34 PLATE LIST Fig. 1. Hannah Wilke, So Help Me Hannah 1978. Film still. Fig.2. Carolee Schneemann, Interior Scroll 1 975. Still from performance.
Jessica Borusky 35 Fig. 3. Joan Semmel, Sunlight 1978. Oil on canvas. Fig. 4. Bruce Nauman Fifteen Pairs of Hands 1996
Jessica Borusky 36 Fig. 5. Bruce Nauman, Thighing 1967. Film still. Fig. 6. Hannah Wilke, Gestures 1976. Film still.
Jessica Borusky 37 Fig. 7. Jessica Borusky, Sketchbook/Journal Installation 2008. Mixed media installation Fig. 8. Tracy Emin, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963 1995 1995. Appliqu installation.
Jessica Borusky 38 Fig. 9. Jessica Borusky, Fuck(w)hole 2008. Video projection and sound installation. Fig. 10. Anni e Sprinkle. Untitled (Performance With Dildos) 1990's. Still from performance