I am concerned by the objectifying traditions of academic figurative representation (the "artistic nude"), in which painters extract erotic profit under the faux-clinical pretense of artistic inquiry. I seek to unsettle these exploitative and unilateral ways of seeing through practices of radical consent and an applied study of phenomenology. In this work, I undertake a seeing of bodies that is difficult, intimate, intersubjective, and ethically grounded, and examine meanings and experiences of nudity within clothed society.
The bodies here belong to my friends and partners. The work originates in a relational aesthetic practice, governed by the precepts of bioethics: autonomy, beneficence, justice, and respect for persons. In an uncoerced and uninstructed encounter, we behold and hold space for one another. Often we both disrobe, weakening the stark delineation between who is to-be-looked-at and who does the looking. I hold a camera against my belly, its machinic eye fitfully blinking and yielding clumsy photographs. I draw from these photos, magnified by hundreds of degrees in the screen of my phone. Through the digital vision of the camera, the person’s body is atomized, re-encrypted into discrete cells of color. In this amplification and pixelization, the body is boundless.
The drawing sets forth from my own skin, as my fingers apply chalk pastel to paper. Paper is itself like a skin: it is ‘porous’, pliant, and perforable. It suffers and survives, and extends itself forever through the proliferation of collage. I fossilize the drawing there under resin, redolent of a bodily fluid. In its scale and reflectivity, the body is both withheld and hyper-exposed; it necessitates a kinetic looking, as the viewer must move around to see it. The viewer of this work is not an invisible guest, but a participant in an embodied, intersubjective exchange.