Haha! A very amateur attempt at showing my three characters in action!
And here’s nice little review of the Wild Weekend and my lecture by Debbie Sheringham Boom:
Haha! A very amateur attempt at showing my three characters in action!
And here’s nice little review of the Wild Weekend and my lecture by Debbie Sheringham Boom:
This is the painting I did for the festival Gang of Witches “Patriarchy is Burning” at the Palais de Tokyo Juin 2019
Learning to dance with the man eaters
This painting has a literary reference, when reading Angela Carter’s: “Nights at the circus”, a striking visualization came to me. There is a passage where Mignon, a minor character sings with the Princess of Abyssinia and learns that she can hypnotise the tigers with her voice and then eventually develops the courage to dance with them. The force and the strength of the tiger in contrast to the semi-nudity of the women in the painting suggests the disproportion, the enormous gap, in the fight against sexism and oppression. This discord, the extent of the unfairness shows how hard the combat will be. I like the absurdity of the idea of such an impossible feat (taming a tiger), breaking its natural impulse, too dangerous; simply stupid or naive, tempting such peril. First of all the tiger is armed with superior weight, claws, and fangs! Plus femininity values frailty, beauty, and fragility; but what good do those attributes do you on the battlefield? And navagating sexual politics in this society is like going to war. Women’s keys to breaking down traditional roles of passivity and aggression are fearlessness, trust, and patience, reversing the roles of predator and prey. We learn roles, we learn our places in society. Are we just animals that have been tamed and trained ? The Marquis de Sade said that we are either predator or prey, and that “predators must and will devour their natural prey”. To escape the role of the sacrificial lamb, (to be a piece of meat), his suggestion for women was to adopt the characteristics of the predator; because it is an “eat or be eaten” world. But if we want a better society; this is not the solution! The women in my tableau are learning from the tigers how to stage a revolution, not by copying the patriarchal model or adhering to any dogma. No leaning on established beliefs or religious doctrine; just using their own experience, developing an animal instinct.
A recurring theme in the stories of Angela Carter, is women becoming “increasingly feral and cat-like”. “The lamb must learn to run with the tigers”, she wrote in regards to de Sade and the subject of adopting “tigerhood”. Tired of being tame the tiger woman wants to break free, to dance toward a rhythmic and untamed future. Learning is similar to transformation- to cross the human/animal divide and transcend boundaries, roles and rules. A metamorphosis is already happening, to the women in the painting, their hands and feet are turning black. A pouring out (the dripping paint), and the feet in the air, represent the need to turn our world upside down. Carter says that refusing fear is the solution. Apollinaire says a new woman will renew the world.
Dance of Death:
Dance is cooperation, one leads, the other follows. In love there is this dynamic as well, strong wills must cede to each other. Bodies in fluid motion suggest an eventuality of evolution. Dance is a celebration where one loses oneself. Is it a dance of death? Medeival popular images of the whole spectrum of society led in a frenzy, dancing until death, these images conveyed a mocking of social position; because we are all equal faced with mortality. I take the idea of the danger of a dance with tigers as another illustration of the dance of death; all these teeth and stripes on the edge of chaos and lunacy.
Why tigers? In Chinese astrology tigers are friendly, brave, competitive, charming and endowed with good luck and authority. With indomitable fortitude and great confidence, people born the year of the tiger can be competent leaders. In Tibetan art they represent: “unconditional confidence, disciplined awareness, kindness, modesty, relaxed yet energized, resting in a gentle state of being that has a natural sense of satisfaction and fulfillment” which I interpret as enlightenment. We are learning to dance from them, and there is so much more that they can teach us.
The throne, the king, the businessman are all symbols of the Patriarchy; the eternal father figure, as angry, controlling, exploiting, the punisher. In Beauty and the Beast it is through love that the beast regains his humanity. It is women, mothers and lovers who can bring out the softer sides of men. In The Sadeian Woman A. Carter uses Sade’s work to expose women to their complicity with stereotypes by questioning the experience of seduction. We all could stand to take some inventory, start to prioritise and then reform.
The color Red-The Planet Mars:
These women are not the white sacrificial lambs. They are the exact opposite visually, dressed in blood red, form revealing leotards. The theme for Gang of Witches 2019 is Mars, the red planet, a sister planet to earth in that she shows the possibility of a bleak future for Earth, a warning, of what will happen if we don’t take care of the environment. There are only 3,890 tigers that remain in the wild. We are in danger of extinction, just like the maneaters. We apprehend man’s uselessness as we move towards dependence on machines. The depth of space in the picture, the dance of the couples are reminders of planets orbiting around the sun. Mars also represents the God of war and conflict, Patriarchy is burning.
The powerful independent woman who can heal through herbs is accused of being a witch and in all the storybooks the cat is cast as her familiar. They are eternally linked, she is assisted, guided and inspired by her compagnion. It is her double, her alter-ego, sometimes her spy, sometimes her protector. Maybe the women in this painting are witches and the small house cat has grown up into a tiger.
My mode of expression is an illustrative/narative style of painting. For me it is so rich because it can be read on so many different levels. Some of today’s issues can only be explained by a visual language. I’m investigating my world, with each painting.
Literal Description fo the Painting :
An oil/mixed media painting of a festive scene. In a luminous ballroom, with a multicolored checkered floor, tigers are dancing with women dressed in red leotards. To the left in the foreground, two women are on the floor. We see one of them with just her feet in the air, red shoes and fishnet stockings. The other woman is lounging, leaning on a crouched tiger who seems to be in cahoots or protecting the two women. Near her hand is a group of bubbles around the word « fortitude ». Streams of dancing energy ribbons swirl bringing our eyes to what she has at her fingertips. In the far background against the back wall a ravenous tiger is snacking on a man dressed in a business suit. Most of the tigers are upright on two feet, holding their partner or dancing freestyle. There are clouds of vapor and bubbles that float in the air. We can see glittering music wafting across the image. On the ground are a few spheres and dice. Written in the music we read « L.E.A.R.N.I.N.G. T.O. D.A.N.C.E. W.I.T.H. T.H.E. » and in the bubbles maneaters
These are the three characters in my performance art/lecture in Spain at The Wild Weekend in Majorca, Spain.
Dr. Swartzvisie, an art critic and criminologist, Shady Cadillac, beatnik artist, and Étoile du Jour, guru and pyschic warrior. The three characters will explain the history of Lowbrow art
For those who were at the first Las Vegas Grind you may remember seeing a few Sunny Buick paintings and at Las Vegas Grind 2 the group art show she organised for us.
Sunny Buick was born in British Columbia, Canada and grew up all over Northern California, finally ending up in San Francisco in her teenage years. In 1986 while attending a high school especially for artists she started to hang out in the milieu of San Francisco tattooing, and began to tattoo professionally in 1992. She served a formal apprenticeship with Henry Goldfield for 6 years. All of her work is heavily influenced by tattoo imagery, a symbolic language in her art.In addition to tattooing Sunny is an accomplished painter and has exposed her work in galleries and museums in the US, Europe and Australia.
Sunny was involved in the West Coast Low Brow and Tiki art movements. She has appeared in several art books like Vicious, Delicious, Abitious and Beatsville, and many others. In San Francisco she participated in the Mexican community ritual of making Day of the Dead installations, in museums and galleries including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
She also organized a gigantic art show and catalog called SciFi/Western, in San Francisco with over 100 artists from all over the world. She arrived in Paris in 2003, where she opened her own private tattoo shop in 2009. She belongs to a Parisian art collective called Gang of Witches.
Sunny will present a « Eye Candy Bulimia » a spoken word/performance piece about Tattoos/Lowbrow art. Cannibal Bonbon is the title of her artistic manifesto, therefore « Eye Candy Bulimia » will be an extension of how she sees herself within the art community in which she exherts her trade. Since her apprenticeship with Henry Goldfield where she learned tattooing and also the art of storytelling, Sunny has been developing her own skills weaving yarns. She has prepared a personal narrative that is both hypnotic and instructive, and that she hopes you will find amusing.
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
Some notes about the visuals of my performance:
Fringed shawls, scarves, a chinese lantern, beads and chains that curtained the entry, all the charms of the gypsy enchantress.
I was really pleased with the first photos. The caravan created a frame around me and my client. The images remind me of comic episodes of live action inside a hollowed out tv cabinet.
Strong symbols of blood and roses, needles and daggers. Classic tattoo imagery.
Photos from our stay in a real gypsy wagon, photos of my grandmother, a really great bakelite and rhinestone crucifix, some of my sugar skulls, all the little personal touches I added to make the space really mine.
A page out of Glenn Barr’s book; “Savage Women Captured!” It’s message is in harmony with my vision of my performance art piece.
A pillow made by a client who follows this blog and appreciates my “Higher the Hair the Closer to God” posts. A girl after my own heart. Thanks so much for this thoughtful gift, Kris Munroe!
A couple of photos of me that serve as an introduction to novices of my little world.
I lit vanilla candles and for me they seemed to invoke the smell of cotton candy on the midway. Exactly the kind of ambiance I wanted to create.
Fascination for the forbidden.
The deviant in lipstick, and lace,
High heels and mascara.
The viewer will see my client as some kind of strange female fakir. The tattoo as a spiritual act. First the discomfort instills compassion for those who suffer involuntarily. A beatific act of beauty; by the pain entering a state of bliss (because of the endorphins) to receive grace and feel blessed.
Why does she do it? The reasons to get tattooed are as numerous as the choice of motifs. But it looks painful! Yes however, pain is a part of many beauty rituals. The tattoo machine is a torture device much like those old fashioned hood hair dryers you find at the beauty parlor. Think of all suffering we endure in the name of beauty:
Clip on earrings
Hair pulled too tight
Chemical hair dyes
Is it a Man Trap or like viewing caged animals in a zoo?
Voyeurism seems to be a very natural human curiousity, especially when it comes to watching someone getting a tattoo. People are fascinated even if they’re not interested in tattoos. In a tattoo street shop ogling can be very annoying for both the artist and the client. But why not present the act of tattooing especially for the voyeur inside everyone? Of course I had to find clients who were willing.This “peak through the keyhole” while two girls are involved in mysterious beauty rituals is a magnetic attraction. It appeals to people’s fantasies. Even though I could care less about appealing to anyone’s fantasies with my tattoos, I’m aware of this gravitational pull. It’s the allure of sex appeal. A woman can use her body to charm. But it’s also her body which she lives in and can do with as she likes, decorate as she wishes, not necessarily to please or enchant.
My strange beauty parlor is here as a service for ladies who want their bodies adorned and embellished with a permanent “warpaint”. The ambiance of an old time circus sideshow, a string of carnival lights. The buzz of the machine lures the audience. Curvaceous long legs hypnotize like the enchantment of the serpent under a spell. Glamour and the promise of romance enamour, bewitch, and captivate. It’s a dazzling dream this eyefull of freakish beauty.
I’ve been dropping hints for a few weeks now about my performance art piece. The inauguration was monday night and it was a huge success. I can finally share a few photos with you of what I’ve been working on for the last few months.
The expo is a group show with many different art forms, all based on the theme of the female body. Almost a year ago I was contacted by a mysterious organisation called “Nyctalopes” about the show and asked if I would like to do a “live painting” performance. I laughed and said “it was out of the question”. Painting is so personal to me, it horrifies me to think of people watching me do it, plus my technique is so fussy and detailed that things don’t advance very fast and you wouldn’t see any evolution in just one night. However, I said, I have no problem having people watch me tattoo.
I thought it would be funny to play with typical male fantasises about tattooed women and try to make a tableau out of the act of tattooing. I always try to be glamorous at tattoo conventions, but can never make it as theatrical as I imagine. We discussed just me tattooing japanese style, on the floor, with cushions and bohemian fabrics. I also mentioned that it was a dream to have a little retro trailer to decorate and tattoo in.
A few months later I was asked me to stop by the Nyctalopes headquarters and see what Dm RK had made for me. Much to my amazement I saw this fabulous little jewel sitting in the living room. A fully dismantle-able gypsy wagon!
One day someone came by my shop with an American style mailbox. It was thier idea that I paint it like a wagon. I also already had my lucky tattoo stool in the works and decided it was a good accessory for the show. I painted the two banners that are attached to the outside of the trailer and my convention banner is also hanging in the room. There are candles and framed pictures on the inside of the trailor that I will show you later.
My room is in the basement of the gallery in what we call in France the “cave”. Vaulted ceilings and stone walls. The gallery itself is in a “Passage” a french term for a covered shopping area. There are over a dozen of these small passages in Paris and I’m crazy about them. Imagine the first mall, over 100 years old filled with quirky shops and many with artist’s ateliers.
They laid down astroturf in my room and printed a large photo of a field of cherry trees in blossom. It really makes my trailer look like it’s parked somewhere idyllic.
I hardly did anything! All I have to do is tattoo girls in it for four nights. (The next 3 consecutive saturdays) I’m also going to bring a few clients in for the next three week to use it as my tattoo studio.
To find girls to do this performance with me I held a casting at my facebook page and had over 30 responses in just 24 hours. I chose a dozen girls who’s ideas I liked and I will tattoo about three of them each night. The rules are that they have to dress very glamorous and “sexy” without being vulgar.
These photos were taken by Delphine Duverger.
I will post more photos as the month passes by and explain some of my artistic mumbo jumbo of my intentions about the performance (a small manifesto).