This summer mostly I have been working in the cinema in my local area. Working in such a busy environment let me observe people and the way they respond to certain things, I’ve seen first dates, families, kids groups, couples, teenagers, pensioners and people with special needs. It has made me really see people from a first-hand perspective. I can’t help but observe the sunburnt people coming in from the sun and seeing the different colours of skin. After a while I was tired and they all turn into just the same blob of organisms and cells walking up and repeating that same movie everyone else has been going to see. I’m repeating myself and repeating this same process over and over to different people it makes me question my own sanity at times, because I am not even looking at their faces or remembering them in any way because all I am doing is serving them. When I think about it, it’s quite sad but I think the way I am feeling about people now is the way many of us see people, we can’t hold every single person we see or talk to in our memory we can only mould them into people with our imagination as that memory has lost of them.
For this project of “The City” I explored the power and influence the city has on us as human beings, and how advertising can manipulate our thoughts. I initially looked at WWII, propaganda within Germany and how people were treated in concentration camps. I looked at the way in which prisoners lost control of their lives due to those in power. I explored subliminal messaging within my work that made me realise that advertising, like propaganda in WWII, can change our perception of right and wrong. Advertising can manipulate men into wanting a product on an advertisement because they are sexually attracted to the women placed beside it. The woman in this sense, has become an object of his desire controlling him to think if he buys this product he can get a piece of this woman in the advert.
Looking at power and control within my work, I explored advertising that has created women into these objects of men’s desires. This made me want to look into how they perceived right from wrong. The models in adverts are inviting them in to look at women in this way. With this in mind I wanted to illustrate the ways in which women could lose control of their lives, due to men who have been brainwashed into thinking it is appropriate to undress a woman with his eyes in an advertisement so he would think that he can control this woman in any way he wants even through rape.
These pieces I did over a series of time by mark making and using oil paints and Alkaflow to give a glossy layer to the surface of the paint. Oils were quite challenging as I have never used them before but I have grown to love them, the way they sit on the canvas surface is so beautiful and blended so well unlike the plastic look acrylic gives. Each of these pieces have some form of sexual act going on from within them, every single piece has a rape scene melting through the mark-making of the background. I was influenced greatly by the work of Cecily Brown and her use of mark making. With my mark making most of them are short marks made on to the surface using warm colours of pink, red, orange, purple and so on. I wanted to blog about them on the same post because they all have the same feelings within each of them. I thought cautiously as I let my figures melt into the background, some are more evident what is happening than others but all contain forced sexual acts of rape. Rape I was looking at because advertising changes our perceptions of what we see as right or wrong as I have wrote about before in other posts. These pieces I looked at the colours and marbling of Bacon, Gammon, ham, steak and
any other pink meat I could find in the fridge to give the look of flesh. Raw meat helped me pick my palette of colour I chose for most of these pieces. I enjoyed creating these marks and building them up over each other letting them melt together to form this meat like quality. Most of the figures I used one colour which was lighter or darker than the background to create them and make them melt within the background whichever way the paintbrush let me to go so. All these paintings are very two dimensional with no use of shadow just blobs of colour to emphasise a rape or something horrible occurring. I looked at the work of Kara Walker and the way she only shows shadows of people on her white walls, it is very two dimensional but it really does makes an impact. I really liked this idea of having it flat in contrast to my dolls because not only does the colours appeal to the viewers eye as sweet and innocent, but when they see the characters emerging from within the background it makes something that is sweet into something rotten and disgusting making them question why they enjoyed it in the first place, in the same way as how if they could see what advertising does in manipulating them, changing their perception they would think more cautiously of what is influencing their thoughts and they may see women as humans instead of objects in advertising.
For my final piece that is influenced by my group work I have decided to work in 3D creating more dolls and having them as a series of pieces. Group work has influenced me as our theme was influence and control and by looking at ways in which we could be controlled by what we eat, with this in mind I wanted to look at influence and control but within advertising and subliminal messaging throughout the city and how the perception of good and bad has changed due to being manipulated by advertising. These dolls to me are a memory of childhood and this world of imagination we created around dolls with playing with them and giving them a life as children. I feel this childlike to my dolls but there is a guilt behind me having this feeling as I feel that something is wrong with me enjoying these dolls as they are doing horrible sexual acts. There is memory of childhood enjoyment and a guilt for enjoying dolls which are not for children. I created these dolls so when someone else looks at them they have this response.
The other two couple of dolls I used actual doll parts and disfigured them by melting them and burning them with a heat gun to illustrate how advertising has disfigured people’s perception of what is right and what is wrong. For me these dolls are another form of drawing I can stitch them and create them in any way I want as an artist even how I can control the situations I put them also can be evident within them as I was the one who made them rape each other. However this is a response I had to how advertising objectifies women, men can wear the product they buy so they are buying the women in the advert to wear also, this product will get them this object-women if you buy this product.
These dolls I gave him real dolls arms and for the woman I gave her melted legs and a doll head, I sewn on breasts and genitals onto both and then made my sculpture through swinging them untidily together. I then wanted to show pain in a different way in this piece so I god strings of wool and died it read and sewed these strings onto her genital area like strawberry laces you buy in a sweet shop to represent blood coming from inside of her and the forcefulness of the man who is raping her.
These dolls have melted pieces from the same doll. The male has melted legs and the woman-doll has the melted torso. This piece was really fun as I wanted to make it out of proportion. The woman-doll has longer arms than the man I wanted to play around with how I could show pain again but in the expression of the woman forced down on all fours to take whatever she is given by the forceful man-doll. I started to sew singular blue threads to the centre of her eyes and let them hang to the table, I kept on putting single threads into her eyes until I was satisfied that they represent the floods of tears the woman-doll is producing from this amount of pain the man-doll is causing her.
The dolls I have made are made from tights stuffed with newspaper and cotton wool. I gave them faces by stitching them on with my bad stitching skills however I think my bad stitching gives these dolls a more naive quality. I gave them genitals and made the male doll rape the female doll by sewing him on top of her by his genitals to hers. When I made this piece it was like I was creating images from my head on to these dolls. I am really happy with the outcome of my first rape scene made from dolls as there is no love involved, no joy but a child-like pain, and a obscure violent scene for dolls to be in as dolls are these pretty playful things. But there is nothing happy about these dolls I have made there is no love between them. I really do love making dolls and using my influence of Jose dos santos I can thought provoke my audience in the way he does with his dolls. Their expressions on their faces are dazed he really doesn’t care what he is doing to her as long as he is having fun she isn’t important to him, she is his plaything. She has no control. she is his doll he can manipulate and control in any way he wants.
These two large paintings I did in oil colour. As these were my first large scale experiment with oils. I wanted to look at blended soft backgrounds in comparison to unblended harsh marks left on a canvas. I enjoyed painting both as both I had to adapt very different techniques.For the blended one I used more lighter and fresher tones to create an innocence within the paint in comparison to the subject matter I was painting. This piece had a surrealistic quality about it that I liked seeing the figures fading into the background as if they are connected to the background by their skin I made me want to try making the figures fade in the background of my unblended experiment. The unblended piece was interesting as I attacked the canvas with colours and jagad brush strokes as well as blending the figures into the background by making marks on top of them. This piece I enjoyed more to create as I was giving the paint and brush strokes of energy I lost control of my painting techniques with piece as a rape victim loses control of herself when the rapist takes control.
Why I put dolls within my art
Dolls for me are symbolic of childhood and of playing, creating this world of your own imagination. However when I think of dolls I see them as these past childhood memories when we as people used to have naive ways of thinking as children. Dolls like people can be manipulated, controlled, ordered what to do and can be damaged and broken. No one would miss a doll if it was gone, Most children forget the toys they once owned and loved. They are pieces of plastic that can be melted down and made into something else so easily without no emotional attachment towards them. What I am trying to say is that dolls are treated like some people and some people are treated like dolls. People have sex dolls which they have sex with and after they have finished with them they can disregard them as if they never existed,women these days are like these sex dolls. Looking at subliminal messaging it made me realise how women are viewed as these objects and when men buy the product they are selling in advertising it is like the men are buying her, they are buying a product that would give them the power to get someone like her because they bought it and she was beside the product. Like dolls, these women in advertising are making it ok for men to look at women as object they can manipulate, break and disregard. Sex today is like Sex dolls the men can disregard a sex doll as well as they can disregard a one night stand. Society today makes me feel sick at the fact that it is ok for men to treat women as if they are objects to them due to subliminal messaging and advertising we no longer have identities, no one wants to know anyone for their personality because everyone is in this tunnel vision of what beauty is and women will do anything men want even change their whole identity almost to be noticed as perfect and beautiful.
I use dolls in my art because it has this naive child like look making people feel that they could be cute but what they are doing is not. My male dolls are rapists, they enjoy nothing better than manipulating, controlling, abusing and stealing power from women. My dolls show this loss of control i have been looking at right through this theme of the city, this loss of control that these women, like in WWII with Jewish people, do not have control of what is happening to them. these playful plush dolls are not lovable. Love doesn’t exist anymore, Society, the city and advertising killed it and all we have left is women reaching for this ideal look for false hope for a man to fall for her looks instead of herself. She dresses like a slut so he is obviously doing to treat her like a slut. she has no control on how she will be treated.
My dolls are representations of how subliminal messaging and advertising has changed males perception of right and wrong thinking it is ok to use women like dolls that adjust them to his every needs and are disposable and replaceable to him.
This piece is a large scale piece that I painted back In Northern Ireland over Easter. It was an experiment I was doing to see how mark making could change the atmosphere within painting. I drew two Men raping women loosely onto paper using my imagination of the women trying to escape but are stuck to the men as if their were play-doh people that have merged and cannot be separated I first painted a green layer and then I painted different marks of flesh colours, I looked at pieces of meat in the fridge to help me get my palette correct. I got so frustrated with this piece because no matter what marks I was doing it wasnt showing this aggression I wanted. I done this piece late at night after fighting with a family member in the garage and attacked the paper with acrylic paint not caring for my palette just attacking the paper with colours I had out from the previous day. Painting usually calms me down from turning into the character Carrie from the Stephen King novel “Carrie”, but I was in no state of mind to calm down. Eventually after running out of paint I went to bed and when i got up the next morning to view it in the daylight I really liked it. The marks I made i found interesting because I wasn’t over thinking them like I was before. Overall I really enjoyed making this piece and it made me want to explore mark making within painting in more depth.
Something I have been recently looking at in my work is power and control and looking at that within a city environment with the use of subliminal messaging within advertisements. Rape is not about sex but about power and control. When you see sexual images of women in adverts or on TV they are mostly seen as objects that we are supposed to think of as desirable. Rape is making a mental act of looking at an advertisement and to be sexually aroused by this stranger. Rape is something very powerful in imagery and may be quite painful for viewers to look at, that is why I am doing work around rape on a rather naive way of making dolls and paintings that are of appealing colours to make the viewer enjoy the artwork initially, but feel a form of guilt from liking it.
Dolls in Relation to Rape
The reason why I am using dolls to illustrate rape scenes is because dolls are apart of childhood and of a way of thinking like a child. I want my viewers to want to look at my dolls and feel as if they were a child wanting to play with them. However, when viewers look closer I want them to question what in their minds is this rape really happening or is it their imagination creating this perverted image. I love the naive way in which dolls can change our perception on a horrible act that is traumatizing but within this context looks “cute” and “innocent”.
These are the final edits of the photos I took of the dinner table we as a group set up. I photoshopped them into different places to change the perception of the dinner table. In my first edit I wanted to put the dinner table in a typical dining room within a home, I did this because I wanted to show the dinner table in its own environment making it look in some ways inviting to the viewer, however the symbolism of the wires is anything but inviting, they controlling and manipulating the people who consume them.
The second edit I did with one of the members of our group pretending to eat in it. This one I wanted to make it quite dark and we all agreed on what we wanted for the backgrounds of each edit. He is eating the wires, the puppet strings show that he has no control in what he eats and forced to eat the wires which are placed in front of him.
Overall I believe when we finally got the use of working in a group it worked really well. We would have liked to have made an installation however we didn’t have enough time to. I think we did justice to our idea of consuming food that controls and manipulates your thoughts. These ideas I have come across in my group work I believe will influence some of my own work, as this idea of losing control and not being in power of yourself is something that really intrigues me as an artist.