Ok guys, I know you have all been waiting for this! This week on pink contemporary art, I want to write about my latest work, Lip Stick. The reason for this is because I wanted to explore why this work came about and how my current life situation may have influenced such a work to be created. Lip Stick is a work I proposed for a recent exhibiting opportunity, so these photos are not of the actual performance within a gallery space, but an example of how the work is proposed to be performed (I asked two friends of mine to pose for the shots in my basement). Detail is a little lost within these shots, so please excuse the 'roughness' of them.
Lip Stick is a durational performance involving a male and female participant and a video projection. The video projector is held by the female participant who points it towards the male participant. The video playing is a close up shot of a woman applying hot pink lipstick, starting with lip liner and following on with lipstick. Slowed down at an excruciatingly slow pace, the action becomes intensified, almost painful to watch as the process of applying lipstick is spread out to an 8 minute duration. The video of the woman's lips is projected to appear as if the male participants' lips are being applied with lipstick, but in reality, they aren't his lips that are being filled in by lipstick, but hers upon his. He becomes her canvas, or as a mirror and is transformed by the process, or more specifically, he becomes a tool for her to reflect upon.
The male participant looks calm and relaxed, while the female participant is showing signs of stress as not only does she need to make sure the projected image is in its right position, but also that she is to hold the projector in a certain angle for the duration of the video (being 8 minutes). Most people know what it's like to physically hold something in position for an extended amount of time. It is an excruciating exercise normally demanded by a personal trainer who wants you to 'hold that position' for that little time longer. We begin to show the signs of the burning sensation of our tiring muscles and we become exhausted by the efforts to maintain such a position.
This 'holding on' can been see here as a metaphor. The female participant is holding on to this projected image of herself, which is the representation of her femininity, but through the actual physicality of the situation she is her own audience. It seems counter intuitive. She does not seem to be performing this action for the male participant as he cannot possibly see what is happening. He is, in a sense, oblivious to her actions. She appears to carry the weight of the situation and even though initially we think she is making a statement for the male participant to receive, we quickly realise he is not in a position to respond, and he was never really the intended audience. So if this work is about a women struggling to maintain her reflection of her femininity, what is it that she is really struggling with?
It seems the struggle is always about ourselves and the classic saying 'you can't love anybody until you love yourself' comes into play here. I currently live in a share house with two other single women. Talk is constant about relationships with men and the common theme that tends to arise with every conversation is how one should act and react within these relationships. How to reel him in, how to answer that text, what to wear on the date, how much is too much, how much is not enough, call now or wait a day, he said, she said, she did this and then he did that, is it her or is it him. It seems women tend to question all sorts of things in regards to their relationships with men, but especially how they are seen within the relationship and what it is they are projecting in terms of their sexual identity. The struggle seems to continue in relation to self awareness, self love, and a sense of sexual identity and femininity amongst women within our culture and probably always will as it seems that only through relationships can we fully understand who we are.