Archive for January, 2012

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A Tijuana tourist prop, the donkey cart is a bizarre symbol of tourist border culture.  In the photos produced, tourists pose with live donkeys painted with zebra stripes, wearing hats that read things like “Cisco kid”, “caramba” and “drunk again”.  As a mixed child (Chicana and white), I interacted with the donkey carts while traveling in Mexico with my father.  The carts evoke memories of feeling out of place.  On one of our trips to Mexico a cruise ship docked in a town we were visiting and tourists from the ship disembarked. Several of them began to take my photograph.  At the time I was unable to articulate or comprehend what was happening and my feelings about it.  In retrospect this is an example of something that has happened often and always made me feel ill at ease.   I unintentionally raised the question of authenticity by being made in to a token and providing the perfect vacation photo, a little “Mexican” girl on display.  In the moment of confusion filled with assumptions over identity and representation I felt voiceless.  The Donkey cart mimics my experience of tokenization by appearing as a supposedly genuine artifact, one that tourists are allowed to read as a simple truth rather than a complex reflection of historical relationships between tourist and Tijuanenses.  Objects like the donkey cart exist for the purposes of entertainment and commerce in the tourist market.  But who is the joke on?  The tourist who is willing to pay for a photo on the donkey/zebra wearing a hat that reads “drunk-ass” or is it the person who pushes the cart, offering an exploitive misrepresentation of them selves.  For whose pleasure and at who’s expense are these images?

Through work with my own donkey cart I challenge these failed representations of human identity and culture in an attempt to salvage power and voice from what feels like a forced identification with a false identity.  In the Tijuana tourist tradition I invite the public to be photographed riding a fake donkey with the misplaced paraphernalia and signage of their choice.  The participants are prompted to mislabel them selves according to past experience of being misidentified.  The tensions that exist in my fascination with problematic symbols such as the donkey cart are teased out in a playful manner during the process of image production.  The donkey cart contributes to demeaning and lasting stereotypes about Mexicans, dumb, dirty and drunk. Yet I feel compelled to love and joyfully engage with these objects and challenge their message at the same time.  The donkey cart posses a tremendous potential to expose its own lies and absurdity.

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Language is a system we use to clear things up, to understand the bigger picture, but language can also conceal, withhold and confuse. What happens to our narratives when characters or settings are missing or taken away? I am interested in things that do not adhere. In fragmentation.

Made from degenerated photocopies and uncertain pencil drawings, these images are an exercise in the fragility of human perception. They value perceptual failures, and contain real boundaries: literally walls and windows and frames that limit access. The blank spaces are as important as the positive ones.

Through a process of reduction and transformation, these pictures withhold explanation and propose simple fictions that allow us to contemplate and construct meaning. There are things we know and things we cannot understand. These images are about not knowing, about absences and removes.

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www.jordanadairstephens.com

Is that girl dead that has flowers growing out of her chest and legs?  Or is she just relaxing on vacay?  Yeah, watching TV… I wonder what shows are her faves.  She’s definitely a channel-surfer, that one.  Riding the waves of melodrama and reality and sci-fi freakshows.  I bet her mind has fallen flat.  Her lightbulb isn’t as bright as most; her thinker has out-thunk itself.  She’s ingested too much of that so-called melodrama, and it’s folded in on her.  Glitter puffs and strings of color– technicolor, that is… It’s really a shame because I know how much her boyfriend loved to watch History’s Mysteries.  Whatever happened to that lost guy anyways?

Down by the moon-lake, a creature made of tinsel and bamboo and plastic and fur lurks in the shadows.  It’s quite dark actually, and any true form of the creature is difficult to make out.  Maybe it’s my imagination seeing the acidic color and putrid psychedelia hanging from its brow.  However uncomfortable (no, sorry, pathetic) it was, I was unable to let my eyes rest on it for too long.  Pathetic.  I walked back over to the lake to see if I could catch a good reflection of myself on its flickering surface, but there was too much zig-zagging on that screen.  Color combos of the most sordid variety vibrating on the inside of my skull.  Red, green and blue above my head?!  Disgusting! 

It’s a fake silver, that of imitation stage jewelry or a tarnished chrome wheel.  It’s not anything that is worth much.  She looks at the cracks in the mirror and fills them in with glowsticks and black marbles.  A drip began at the middle of the white wall.  It was kind of mauve, but I wish it had been the monster’s blood.  What did it feel like to have that stickiness in your hands?  Was it slick and rubbery like silly putty or elusive like a dangerous nap?  Is that your loungewear on top of the pile or your mom?  I think I lost my cookies–no, tossed them!  But seriously, this isn’t a laughing matter.  Is it worth bringing it back from the depths of the peculiar–the nonsensical?  If I do then there is nothing there–or too much rather.

 

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Kissy Monster with Marbles
2011
Lipstick on inkjet print, acrylic paint,
rock, spray paint & marbles

 

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Baby Tiger Rug
2011
Inkjet print & latex paint on floor

 

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Ode to Mom & Steg
2011
Plastic box, toy net, plastic letters,
push pins, stick, fowl feathers
& stegosaurus keychain

 

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Peek-a-boo (gum in hair)
2011
Oil & varnish on panel, acrylic on
poly-cotton, stick, cotton, spray paint,
clay & synthetic hair

The sculptures are unsure of their own ways of being–their forms.  They are unsure of how to carry themselves in a world so vastly polluted with scrutiny, unsure of how to exist without being shy, to stand erect with nothing to poke or puncture and no one to dismiss or discard.  The sculptures hover in-between, lively and static, both prop and relic.  Instead they are photographically aggrandized by the use of theatrical lighting amplifying them, situating them within an otherworldly staged arena shrouded in the permitting realm of darkness.  They are figures set against a ground, viewed through a lens, pathetic in any attempt to mystify and confuse.  There is an urge for all to blur together and to be muddied.  This uncertainty bears a semblance of a middle ground–the site where it all folds in onto itself.

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Untitled (horizontal landscape)
Chromogenic print
2011

21” x 16.5”

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lumpen, guttural (in wax)
Chromogenic print
2011

16.5” x 21”

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Residual Matter
Chromogenic print
2011

16.5” x 21”

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Lightbulb
Chromogenic print
2011
21” x 16.5”

 

A young wom      chair star       at the len        ance, she begins a convers               ni           ng collapsing                               . defeat underwhelming mediocrity.Could we ‘have it                y say, orrrrrrrr is

   child like foolishness leadin         ay?dear, de                                       bee  n mislea                         d.               yone w day see we                         rabid pa      ogs in search of the same piece of spo                     d, stinking fat.Famished?Get going. Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr                                                                         e smile, hope, wish        udge me, judge them                  e how high we rank in the int                     ctual struggle.Keep a stiff upper l          eep a low profile, keep y                         e’s peeled     

     cuz yo           ght fall off a  d never hold, get, or be IT again.                        

  uddenly, the    ts back on.Oh.

           We’ll hand                        t.Oats will keep    s till they choo o stu    us again.Study me again.they           n’t study, they glance.Quickly, loos     ts over and thats        

  at.                     Rabid dogs                        hat it is?There’s never been a rrrrrrace run s                   r                             d, so fast. U there, wh    in first?                                .

Valid, i gue    s, but not stro                   er than what I bring.

Look.

Willingly, i fell again.

        Xero                          oughts, se   m out, let the  ad, zero in.                               .You kn               true.  unterin         aily disputes                      

 i can        i cani can’t                i can’t                                   i can            i can’t i can’t i can        i cani can’t                i can’t                                   i can            i can’t i can’t i can        i cani can’t                i can’t                                   i can            i can’t i can’t i can        i cani can’t                i can’t                                   i can            i can’t i can’t

 i can’t                                          i can i can’t                                          i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can’t                                          i can

  i can’t                                          i can i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t           i can i can i can          i can’t i can’t                                          i can i can’t                                          i can                       i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani

 can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i

 cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i

 cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti

cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t i can’t i can i cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’ti cani can’t

i can’t.

 

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Biography

 Senalka McDonald is drawn to spaces within the home. Rather than being a physical place, McDonald presents an internal home-space within the mind; a space where identity, voice and the impact of performative gesture create exposure, enforcing a circular gaze. McDonald is a recent recipient of the Murphy Cadogan Fellowship and has participated in the ROOTED and the Austin Project residencies. Recent selected exhibitions include Home After Dark (San Francisco, CA), Queer State(s) (Austin, TX) and Hello (San Francisco, California). McDonald is currently an MFA candidate at California College of the Arts, where she received full Graduate Merit and Diversity scholarships. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Fine Art and Cultural Geography from the University of Texas at Austin (2006). She currently resides in San Francisco, California.                                                 www.senalka.com

stapletondianajpeg_1cca.JPGI am a figure model for drawing classes but I don’t draw. I don’t draw because I have never been very good at it and I lack the patience necessary for perfecting it. I am an artist insecure about my failure to master a craft of any traditional artistic merit. I have however mastered the craft of modeling for art.

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It is an important personal and political activity to stand without shame in my body, despite that my relationship with my body is primarily about shame. I have found that in the moments when I am modeling I am more allied with my body than at most other times.

stapletondianajpeg_3cca.JPGIn this performance I set the terms of the situation and facilitated a public life drawing event. When people draw, their engagement is with the materials and their own practice at representing what they see. There are variations in skill, and projection but in many ways it ceases to be about the body standing in front of them.

stapletondianajpeg_4cca.JPGPlein Aire is an art historical movement that brings the painter into natural light and out into nature, somewhat ironically the figure in life drawing classes is rarely seen in natural light because of prohibitions against nakedness. Drawing is an anachronism in the contemporary world. Attempting to engage the public in such unmediated activity was set to fail from the outset. I enlisted many people to come to the event and I encouraged curious passersby to draw me - instead of just photograph and videotape me. After I assured them that skill was not a requirement, several of them participated by drawing. Many of them courteously declined.

The violence that is done to women creates

reluctance or an inability to fully occupy their bodies. Most women are afraid to be naked in public space. De-sexualizing nakedness, might decrease the violence done to women by others and to themselves. This is a huge goal. Standing naked as a woman in primarily gay male space that is contested for its use as a naked area made me conspicuously female. In this contested space devoid of women, what am I doing here? Art as historically and institutionally sanctioned space for women and for nudity brought the answer to that question, and legitimated my presence, albeit through a bizarre dislocation.

Staging a Public Life Drawing Event gave me public voice and visibility. There is a directness to being seen only as human - unfettered by the façade of cultural signification that is expressed in the way we dress and what we say when we choose to speak. When I am naked the most evident element is my female body. That I am queer is invisible. That I am an anarchist is invisible.

Plein Aire Life Drawing Event from Diana Stapleton on Vimeo.