What Happens in the Empty Spaces
I want to cut. I want to cut so badly. I want to cut so badly I can feel the urge in my fingertips, my mind staying fixated on the oasis of relief shimmering just out of reach. When I cut, there’s pleasure in the pain, a sort of relaxation of the tension that has pervaded my muscles; a manifestation of my inner wounds; a sense of false control over circumstances that are uncontrollable. When I cut, just once is enough, but only the first time. Later, I need more. And more. And more. But I don’t cut. Instead, I make work.
When my ex left me-or I threw him out (the exact order of events still remains confusing to me) life became divided into Before The Break Up, and After. Before The Break Up, my ex occupied space, both literal and figurative, in my life and mind. After The Break Up, his body was gone but his presence remained, lingering in his scent on the sheets, his things still scattered throughout the house. After The Break Up, issues that I’d thought long dead came roaring back to life to fill the empty spaces that my ex left behind.
This series of self-portraits uses a snap shot aesthetic popularized by artists like Nan Goldin and Les Freidman to tap into a language of private spaces and highly personal moments. Don’t be fooled. This work is highly staged, and meticulously planned out. Staging these self-portraits allowed me to avoid the narcissism and permissiveness inherent in the act of actually engaging in these activities instead of performing them, as well as the potential exploitation inherent in capturing others in acts of potentially extreme self-harm.
By giving myself permission to act these activities out, I allowed myself to engage in these behaviors in a different way than I ever had previously. By putting myself in the mindset while only faking the follow through, I began to reach a different understanding of the void that these activities were attempting to fill. I also found that in the continual and routine process of miming, over and over, for the camera, while simultaneously making minute adjustments and running back and forth to check each shot on the screen, these activities began to lose their allure, their power. They became humdrum, routine, and boring.
But these are still issues that we, as a culture, grapple with on a daily basis. While eating disorders and alcoholism have been brought further and further into the light and the public consciousness, they are still easily (and often) hidden behind closed doors. In my work, I attempt to bring my own problems out from behind the closed doors, not only in an attempt to force myself to acknowledge them, but to help bring these problems out of the domestic space and further into the public discourse.