My work examines patterns of behavior in an attempt to gain an understanding of others. Through photography and video, I create scenarios examining my own relationships with others and this implicit illusion of intimacy, highlighting issues of gender and ethnicity. I also utilize these media to document more ephemeral interactions with strangers. In my paintings, I appropriate moments of tension usually from film stills and my own life, exploring the way performance as well as this innate inability to know others, can hinder the interpretation of a moment or individual.
My newest work emphasizes my fascination with beauty, androgyny and ambiguity as it relates to romantic relationships. Entitled “Relationship Utopia,” the photographs illustrate a symbiotic partnership between two individuals inspired by the June Cleaver, Patty Duke archetype of a kitschy, conservative domesticated female ideal. The two lovely women bake each other cookies and cakes, and aid each other in the housework, all the while wearing their high heels. The day ends with the ladies doing some reading and having cigarettes in bed, confirming the suspicion that these are not two ordinarily platonic females. Perhaps they are not even really female.
Recently, I have used video in order to stage work that metaphorically represents patterns of frustration in romantic relationships. Entitled, “The Game: A Trilogy on the Struggle for Intimacy," these videos explore the patterns we find ourselves in, and the masochistic way we often prefer to tether ourselves rather than free ourselves from the games we hold so dear. Utilizing elements of repetition and routine, the cycles emphasize the futility of attaining intimacy with another person, yet the fervent manner in which we pursue this elusive intimacy.
When I living in London three years ago, I confronted my own identity as an outsider in a foreign country, by approaching and photographing strangers in order to examine the distinctions between tourist and native and between individuals of different nationalities. I continue to be fascinated by the idea of the foreign, foreigner and the traveler, as these are shifting ephemeral identities difficult to truly grasp.
In my paintings, I utilize highly dramatic and pivotal images culled from film and photographs of my own experiences exploring themes of sexuality, violence, alienation and especially performance. Then I rearrange the series of images to create new narratives that imply a circularity. While these series of images draw the observer into the drama unfolding within the canvases, they also hold the viewer at a distance with their ambiguity and hyperbolic absurdity. The more personal paintings emphasize an implicit distance between two people, typically representing a pair of individuals in an intimate setting (often one half of the pair is behind the camera) though plagued by a palpable void between them.
Another aspect of paintings is performance: a stuporously drunk Irishman dressed as Santa Claus on the Fourth of July, young desperate people singing karaoke, pandering for attention as they attempt to outdo whoever came before. Similar to the characters in the series derived from film stills, these characters engage in a over the top performance verging on grotesque, their eyes bloodshot and bulging from their faces. Consequently, in their ostentatious attempts to prove their existence, they are so disengaged from the reality of themselves that they become characters, or rather caricatures.
With all of my work across all media, I am driven by this desire to understand how people attempt to connect and know others and study how often in this endeavor, they serve to further distance themselves from the other and even themselves. This can be intentional, through various types of performance, or unintentional through cultural and language barriers. In spite of all the obstacles, I continue to make the work in the hope of ultimately bridging these divides and gaining some understanding of the world around me.