Thursday, July 31, 2008

Self portraits by the sounds of the philharmonic

I just returned from listening to the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. My friend's parents have box seats and for classical, that means you are sitting at a table with a "waiter" serving your every whim. We had our own food, and wine, lots of conversation so we were pretty self sufficient . As I sat there with glass in hand, I wondered what the others were thinking when they listened to the sound. For me classical music clears my head of the muck of the mundane - work, stress, problems, errands - and goes straight to the creative. How am I shooting the trailer? The words came to me, the visuals in place, the way I imagine it to be. I faltered on a few "maybe this is too specific" but this blog is all about commiting the ideas to paper and then decide.
I was thinking about how my artwork has always been self portraits. Oftentimes mixed media but more specifically I thought of the series I shot around 1998. I guess it was after the fall, when I moved to Park Slope. I shot a series of self portraits in a white eyelet cotton slip and a big illuminated stomach with a cord hanging from the edge of my slip, down to my feet and plugged into the wall. I took the images and made photo transfers, ironed and sewed them on to the original slip and performed a surgery to make the round illuminated stomach permanent in the dress. At the time I was fascinated with the simple idea of lights on/lights off, communication flowing/communication severed. At which end?I spray painted silk roses and stuck them into the stomach. This piece was really about the death of an unborn. I didn't think of it that way, I didn't really think at all but I called it "orbed" and another "unplugged" so yeah, I guess we are talking about abortion, or really just losing a life before it began. Let me be clear about this: about abortion does not mean against abortion. The piece was picked up by Hofstra College for a show produced by SAF, Survivors Art Foundation. I was out of town whent the show went up and despite my directions, the pieces were installed completely wrong. They lost their meaning. But I still remember.

Tonight I realized how personal this story needs to be - because that's what it's about - being adopted and wanting to know where you came from. If I am going to interview family members, shouldn't I "interview" myself? The artwork is a direct connection to my yearning to know where I came from. While the film is about baby brokers and adoption in the US, it is specifically about my experience as an adoptee and finding out that I was sold. Even though I didn't know this until recently, it was never right and I've explored this in my work many times. So that's my jumping off point- the self portraits, the self. People have such difficulty accessing information, their subjects - I have mine right here. Thousands of images. That's where all the questions begin to take a shape of their own. So that's where I will begin.