IPS: Part 5

I finally started to make images, but the initial idea of making a 3D magazine was long gone at this point. For several weeks I thought of making a large interactive installation, but I never put my heart into it and drop it later. During this time period, I researched narratology and storytelling through object making, the cultural importance of the photo album, as well as the cultural politics of body modifications. I visited an open lecture at Konstfack regarding norm criticism, intersectionality and postcolonial perspective. Another thing I did was visit a transgender activism festival in Stockholm and listen to panel talks about trans identity and contemporary Swedish art.

All of this gave me some valuable input in visual portrayals and made me realize something quite oblivious: the best way to portrayal people in a dignified way is to imagine how they would portray themselves. I finally discarded the idea of painted banners and carte de visites, to focus more on emulating the look and feel of vintage photography. However, the idea of making deeply personal images, which resonated with my dissertation, went against the interactive installation concept, which almost demanded plainer and more archetypical designs that could be reorganized in several different ways.

At the start of the summer term, I tried to collect my thoughts and concerns about the project. I interpreted the story about failure and how we live with it. Maybe I was cynical at the time, but I felt that stories that focus on success and improvement overshadow a reality where bad things happen and we have to cope with it. Maybe it is several years of intense study, my loneliness, or my place in Swedish queer activism, but I suddenly realized that I miss a moment or place to mourn, to regret, to be non-productive, and these things are okay.

I wanted the story to show people making bad decisions, tensions that are left unresolved, with an underwhelming and uncertain end. I wanted the final piece to be incomplete, intentionally damaged, just like the characters portrayed within it. However, this realization stands against so much of my personality which has always pushed for being as productive, nice, and perfect as possible so I have still not fully accepted it.

IPS: Part 4

After the painting workshop with Rob Nicol I decided to make some small thumbnail paintings in watercolours and gouache to get a better sense of what colours I wanted to use. The colours were inspired by American artist Edward Hopper, who was active during the time period, as well as Swedish concept artist Simon Stålenhag, whose brushwork I really admire. At this point I had not yet decided if I wanted a monochrome colour scheme, or if I wanted each image to have muted colours. My external mentor Charlene Man suggested I could use both, making key images stand out with colours. The thumbnails also inspired some of the final images that focus on landscapes.

IPS: Part 2

I did not work as much on my IPS during the first term as I wish I had. I planned to spend two days every week just working on it, but in reality I spent more time on the Play & Learn project as well as working on my Sugar Skull molds, a pet project I had since Unit 8. I also spent more time than I originally planned on my dissertation, which put me into a logical thinking mode that made me visually numb. I tried to combat this by watching HBO’s Carnivàle and writing drafts of diary entries and letters that would suit the performers. It did help me flesh out the story and characters, as well as shifting the point of view, but visually I was almost stunned.

I borrowed several books for research during the Christmas holiday. One of the books had an interesting collection of sideshow banners, which really caught my attention. I painted several small reproductions with gouache that was cut and glued into my sketchbook. At this stage I still played with the idea of making large oil-painted sideshow banners myself, but I later dropped that idea.

I looked at feminist erotic comics and literature to ensure that my Tijuana bible would be empowering and sexy without consorting to the male gaze as most pornography does.

The first three weeks of the spring term was dedicated to the Play & Learn project, to ensure it would be finished by the Interim show. I thought I could return to my IPS without any problems, but at this point I had drifted so far from my original ideas, which honestly were quite vague, that I did not know what to do. Should I try to make lot of delicate artworks before I even knew the synopsis of my story? How should I visualize the characters without using harmful stereotypes? Would the Tijuana bible I spent so much time researching really add something, or would it confuse the message? And what message was I aiming for, really?

IPS: Part 1

Hi everyone! The first month of final year has passed and it's time to update this blog, although in a slightly messier manner. The projects are fewer but more complex, so expect to see ongoing updates rather than summaries of things I have done. Be also prepared to find IPS (individual program of study) work with course work, life drawings, and personal projects. With that said, let us begin with the biggest collection of new work for my IPS, which I hinted at in my quick update in March.

I made the first sketches for my IPS in March, after I read about Jean Furella Carroll. She was originally a bearded lady who was in love with a man who could not accept her whiskers. After fifteen years (!) of unanswered love, she decided to remove her beard and cover her body in tattoos. This story is often framed as a sweet love story of dedication, but to me it is more about unequal relationships and sacrifices. The clash of themes fueled my imagination and I started to research about women and tattoos.

During the summer vacation, I started to look more into American sideshows photographs, postcards, and banners. To get a better understanding of the setting and cultural mindset, I also researched (African) American history, specific events such as the Monkey Trials and the Dust Bowl, personal photographs, contemporary circuses, as well as cameras, packages, and tattoos from the 20s and 30s. I also did some sketches of Diane Arbus after several of my dissertation sources referenced or discussed her work.