Henry Goldfield used to say to me “we’re in showbiz”. Maybe that’s where I got the idea for my piece. Because I don’t do performance art very often I’m extremely conscious of what I am doing, why am I doing it and what does it mean? Although the performance is really an extension of what I do every day for work, I’ve taken it out of context and presented it in a way that is my own vision of tattooing and beauty.
When getting ready for the “stage” I took a lot of care in how I wanted to present myself. This is no different than any other day except the choice of items. A special occasion, merits something out of the ordinary, something extra. I choose the role, become the character, using what I can cull from the outside to create the illusion.
Self Dissatisfaction, Change and Transformation
Self image: If we are born into a body or a face that does not correspond to our ideal we have to adjust our ideal or change what is in our power to change (kustomise the chassis). Tattoos and makeup are a personal choice and how we see ourselves or would like to see ourselves. I’m an artist. “I” can be the medium I use to create my art. Living for a while in Europe I can see that it is an American idea to create your identity or create a new identity. It comes from the days of Ellis Island. The chance start a new life in the new world. Shorten your name (maybe not even by your choice) start a new story. Life is a course where we metamorphose into our true individual identity. Our personal development unfolds in layers. A chameleon changes color with it’s mood or to blend in with it’s environment. As an artist I create the image in the mirror. I decorate until I feel in harmony with what I see before me just as I change and add to a painting until I feel it’s done. This image can change as I develop or considering my surroundings.
Artifice and Mystery: Tools for Identity
Some things that I’m aware of while doing this performance; which I have my doubts about. The question occurs to me often because it’s a stereotype that I detest, that women use makeup and feminine decoration to offer themselves up as an object of desire. Think of the Peacock’s colorful display. It serves to catch the eye/grab the attention of the opposite sex. Are we really that conditioned to please? That all of our efforts at decoration are to attract a mate? I ask myself, is that why I got tattooed? The answer is no. To feel attractive gives confidence and is more of a personal desire not necessarily for others. Out of personal pride for my appearance I present the best me. Did you know that learning and magic are listed in the definition of glamour in Webster’s dictionary? For me as an artist glamour is one the best ways to express my ideas, my personality.
How can you be a feminist in high heels?
Fate brought me while I was contemplating this article a friend of one my clients with a book about “Nomads” by the feminist Rosi Braidotti. Apparently new feminists who are nomads are “in process or becoming” using some of the past to figure out our position today. Braidotti speaks of woman being considered monstrous, both fascinating and abnormal at the same time. Deviant. She is greatly influence by the work of french philosopher Deleuze also Chris Weedon. The latter spoke about the female being considered “different”. Male equals logical, female equals irrational (intuitive). Difference is seen as negative. How curious that tattoos are also seen as negative! I got tattooed to be different. Maybe it’s because I already feel different by being a woman. I want to mark and accentuate this difference with make-up, long hair and skirts. Maybe even high heels if I don’t have to walk too far! People say that being tattooed is a masculine trait. I don’t agree. The tattooed woman is on a quest to “be” different. Look, 90% of all tattoo magazines have a woman on the cover. The exotic image sells the magazine but is the ideal client today a woman? Maybe!
My peformance was delivered to teach, to demonstrate; to make me and the audience fascinated and curious. I guess what I’m saying is be different, stand out from the rest. If this is showbiz, the show must go on!
Rosi Braidotti. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994