Whenever using a religious symbol I am mindful of the potential to cause offence. I however hope that through this writing I can explain that the symbol of cruxifiction is meant to represent a destiny. Jesus had a destiny which would bring him to the cross, this was something through his own teachings he knew he could not escape. I am speaking of Jesus as the philosopher and spiritual man of wisdom and do not speak of a metaphysical being that is beyond our material understanding.
I use the cruxifiction of Jesus as a man, a being like us not as a figure of religious deity. I hope by explaining Jesus the man rather than Jesus the spirtual entity this goes some way to ameliorating any sense of offence. I think using the cross carries a responsibility to explain oneself adequately and I hope that by explaining my purpose it will prove to have eventual validity within the context of my arguement.
Throughout my journey in this module I have continually strove to find a way of expressing ideas that succinctly address an issue or idea of the self. I have sought to question individual aspects and I have also sought to look at the self in the context of wider culture. Each piece is a process of questioning and a way of learning how to use to visual language to represent one's ideas as best they can. I am at a very early stage in my practice so it is clear I have to find my own voice. This will only be found through experimentation at the edges of comprehensibility for me. To start my exploration in too settled a region is something I strive to avoid, simply because the landscape there is too vast and already fully populated with aesthetic beauty. I am anxious to avoid beauty as my start point although more than willing to accept its arrival at an end point that may occur after an evolutionary process of exploration.
There can be no doubt that I have yet to discover beauty in my work. This piece is again a dark and foreboding collection of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction with selfhood. It begins its journey from a point of frustration and arrives formed as reflecting a negative place. One may approach their artistic world and develop arguments that of course are never meant to do anything other than address difficult subjects which ultimately cannot find beauty. Some artists do discover beauty within desolation and that becomes their work other artists strive for a visual language that supports a different type of engagement with their Ideas. It seems for me at this early stage I am developing into a space that is an extension of philosophical discussion whilst wishing for an aesthetic outcome at the end as a sort of artistic bonus.
As I discussed earlier the cross is meant to symbolise destiny however I am of course mindful that it also represents salvation. Thus it can be seen as an object of multiple dimension. One part a very fixed material concrete tangible expression of empiricist destiny and the other a place of metaphysical faith offering a connection to the spiritual plane as our end to suffering. In this piece hope is the realisation of the process at work, as such the hope provided by self enlightenment. Hope comes in the making of the object, its existence now in the material world providing a space for discussion and thought out of which can grow understanding.
Understanding is perhaps a beauty that my work tries to encourage, perhaps my serenity comes not in the glorious palette and majestic final piece but rather in the soil of the original archeological investigation. My work might be these dusty collections of mental debris that I am not skilled enough to polish. In using a blog one opens up the first, second and multiple drafts to scrutiny as well as the final piece. One exposes thinking and one has to trace how they are coming to their conclusions. This is the power of the blog for the artist particularly when one is studying the subject formally.
I have often spoken of my personal battle with gender dysphoria and how that informs aspects of my work. In a project like this dealing with the idea of the self portrait I already come with a mutable identity. This isn't one that needs clarification by philosophical theory or psychiatric hypothesis but is one lived and experienced by me daily in the real material world. The artist however cannot simply keep placing their flag in the ground and shouting this is me, they have to make lucid their connection to other things and their place within the shared realms with other beings. One has to find out of their personal subjective experiences a coherent shared objective space that incrementally takes something forward.
I have tried therefore in this piece to express things from a subjective situation of gender dysphoria whilst also allowing anyone who feels locked within a particular way of being to also engage with it. I have mentioned Ayn Rand in the title because she was very much at the philosophical forefront of a factual objective explanation of humanity. Rand spoke of our place as the objective processors of reality and our brains as devices readily prepared to acknowledge what simply is as the external world and our ascribed place within it. We arrive as objects ready made to process the reality that surrounds us.
The point about the self throughout this process is not to shed the experienced material reality that writers like Ayn Rand eloquently explain but rather to recognise how frail and tenuous notions of a self actually are even in those who never experience it's collapse. It is true we are equipped with the machinery to navigate through from birth to old age sufficiently well so that in many cases we never have to face a self crisis but for others who have all the armour Ayn Rand equips us with, they cannot make safe passage through. My work is an attempt to explain those people not to negate the fact that many never experience a crisis of the self.
The piece when examined beyond my own ideas of my personal gender dysphoric identity also frames a wider question about journey and the reflection of an increasingly secular world that objectifies the body to the point where it is something one may change at will. It no longer retains the sanctity of a being made in a deity's image it is now made in an image of our choosing. The piece may start as my personal question that elicits an artistic response but it can also occupy a wider discussion that is open to other aspects of fixed perspectives about the external self.
I feel these ideas move me further toward the notion of metamorphosis as being one that merely changes the external structure whilst never addressing the internal self or drives that urge change. Kafka's book really speaks off this immutable self this sense of the outer transfiguration never really addressing the inner void. Increasingly this will become a question that many face as the means to transform the physical become more common place.
My purpose in the piece wasn't to allude to fixed identity in an external sense but to address that non belonging experienced as the cold night of the soul. The idea we are thrown into an external world that we have to adapt to but that inside we don't feel part of. The cultural pressure to adapt in some externally symbolic way to fit in. To move through the external world unhindered artificially reinforcing our self esteem with each new modification to fill in the cracks of our disconnected non feeling self.