“Flesh” series, 2012. (Still working on a title)
Shown at Gallery 1313 as part of the 3 show in Toronto, ON during Maximum Exposure, 2012.
A few things inspired this series. Initially, I was motivated by the influence that hyper-sexualized commercialism has had on Western culture. In particular, I was concentrating on the interesting and somewhat disturbing relationship between product and its representation, when the object in question is inanimate, and yet still sold using tactics of sexuality (for example, a gum advertisement with an image of people engaged in a sexual act). Presenting meat in the manner that it is in this series is a sort of visual pun of consuming sexuality. I feel that oftentimes, we are so oversaturated with this type of imagery, that we become almost immune to the feelings that we usually associate with sex, and the highly personal experience of this act is hollowed into the shell of a marketing scheme. By presenting these images in the mode of small squares, I wanted to give the viewer a feeling of intimacy in a situation where it is usually not given.
Along this line of thought, a secondary motivation and visual pun involves viewing this work under the context of a feminist lens. While it may seem obvious, I was thinking about the objectification of women in society on a global scale, as more or less being considered pieces of meat. I was interested to see what would happen if I were to reverse this notion, and if the same feelings would be evoked as if it were physical female bodies.
The third reason behind my conceptual development of this series came about more or less during the production stages. Growing up, I dealt with sexual abuse and assault. It started at the age of eight, when one of my brothers decided to show me what grownups do when they love each other. He was babysitting me while our parents were out. I grew up thinking that when you love someone, you surrender all control. You do what he tells you to do. When you love someone, you don’t say no when he sticks your hands down his boxers or gets on top of you, but even if you do, he’s still going to do it, so better try to make the best of it and slap a smile on. And when they keep chasing you, stalking and begging for more, you just run away in your mind, as far as you can until your feet would burn, with the sting of blisters worse than the sting of tears mixed with sweat pouring down your face. But you just have to suck it up and bite your tongue. So one can only imagine how the rest of my youth went; up until about the age of seventeen, almost every single “partner” forced me into performing sexual acts, such as the robbery of my virginity at sixteen. But in my head, this was how a woman in love was supposed to be. So, in turn, the production of this series was a bit of a cathartic expression of my experiences of rape and molestation. I wanted to create something beautiful out of what I used to see as tragedy, but now see as devices that made me into the person that I am today.