Embodiment and leaving the house

20 11 2012

I finally figured out what it is I’m trying to talk about with my art. I’m trying to deal with the fact that I forever have to live in the setting, the vessel of which my most horrible memories took place.

As a rape survivor, I can’t leave this body. Unless I disassociate. But disassociating also is part of the reason I was raped in the second case. The defense mechanism, became the downfall. It happens all the time in nature. The creature freezes in order to not be seen, unaware that the predator is already engaged. Anyway, even if disassociating hadn’t betrayed me, its no way to go about living.

I’ve decided to undergo some other types of therapy, to see if I can perhaps recover the thing that first taught me to disassociate. So that I can finally deal with it, and really learn how to help that part of myself, best. EMDR and Hypnosis, or one or the other, or together, I dunno, but I’m going to find out about them, soon. I have my first appointment with this woman Tuesday. Its cool, she’s smart, she was one of the leaders of the group that I did last spring and summer.

She was also the first person to use the word abuse, when I described my father. Actually I guess she was the second. The first was the towering and broad shouldered co-worker of my father I was sent to talk to, instead of going to a real psychologist. She had this list, of red flags, signs that you were in an unhealthy relationship. A lot of those things on that list described things my dad did. I think all of them were verbal, certainly most.  But now that I think of it I don’t think she did use that word, abuse. Just “unhealthy relationship”

Maybe she can hypnotize me into thinking that leaving the house on my days off in order to do things like, attend a meeting with my psychiatrist, do laundry, or go grocery shopping isn’t so scary.

So with these two new therapies, I hope that I can better learn how to deal with being within my body, and present. I read some things in that masturbation was supposed to help survivors be more comfortable with their bodies. I don’t think that I have a problem being in my body and feeling the pleasure that comes with masturbation, or sex, I think I have a problem being in my body when it comes to feeling the emotions I am or am not having with sex.

Sex, emotions, and relationships are all very different things to me, that possibly have a kind of ven diagram thing happening, but emotion is barely in either of the two, especially when sex enters into the relationship. It seems that the more sexual I am with a person, the further I want to pull away from them emotionally. Until recently. There was one person who was able to break that cycle of mine, and now I realize the benefit of not being so detached.

Anyway I think I was going to mostly write about my art practice…

I think that my work fluctuates between the state of disassociating, victim, survivor, and aggressor. In some works, only one state is showcased or portratited if you will., in others they are battling, in this confused and violated rawness. The strange thing was when I was doing my work last semester, the phrase that has stuck out in my head the most, is “Your anger, is clear.” I thought the work had moved greatly beyond just anger. I don’t know if that’s true.  The gender reduction monsters are my way of talking about society’s way of making rape jokes, and pointing out how narrow definitions, or stereotypes, castrate, and dehumanize people. But they also point out the absurdity and ridiculous nature of this entire political conversation of redefining rape. The fact that, that is even an option, to qualify rape, as legitimate, or forceful, is unfathomable.  The only thing that is worse is if they were to demand the rapist marry the victim/survivor, that and actually stoning the victim.  By turning women and men into these monsters I hope I have created a kind of comedic relief in talking about something that’s horrible and doesn’t make any sense.

By using the skins, or carcass paintings, I hope that I understand my victimized state. By turning myself into a gender reduction monster I hope that I have a better understanding of what I see the male gaze as. Maybe the carcass paintings are the skins of the gender reduction monsters, maybe by merging myself with them, or falling into them, or embracing them, I am reaching out to the victim, the disassociating self, and trying to hold on to it and comfort it, expressing the fluid nature of victim/survivor identity. By tearing paper, and collaging with it, and then white washing it, to me it reminds me of what happened when I told my mother and father. That hazy memory, but more how they look at me so different now but never really talk about why.  How my father doesn’t really look me in the eye anymore.

But the general distress and labor that goes into each work, is as Merleau-Ponty puts it, a birth. And the result is a body, each work is its own body, and its own kind of expression of self, of myself.  Pointing back at me, looking at me, calling out wanting… to be healed, to be whole, to be human again. Embodiment or at least the struggle with it, is a human one. And rape is the ultimate dehumanization. For what is a human with out a body?  And how do I live in and love that body after what happened inside? That is the question that I am looking at, and since I’m a painter, that’s the kind of things I make.

I think I may have just stumbled upon about a half way done artist statement there. Awesome.

 

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