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If I held one belief about measuring the success of an art object or performance it would be that old modern architectural truism ‘form follows function’. As a painter and performance artist with a strong social interventionist studio practice I make formal choices in my work that reflect my perception of the functionality of the piece in humanist and relational terms. In my work over the past couple of years I have focused on expressions of issues that are often considered taboo within the structures of contemporary upper to middle class cisgender heteronormative society. I consider portrait painting to be a convenient medium for my exploration of Judith Butler’s theory of identity being the result of the performance of identity. The portrait becomes a space of intersecting perceptions of identity performance, where evidence of the subject, the painter, and the viewer’s performances co-exist in a complex mental space. The autonomous object of the painting is the conduit for the viewer’s simultaneous experience of the artist’s presence, through the evidence of the process of mark making, and the recognition of the representational image of the subject. In this way the viewer of the portrait painting comprehends of the subject being represented only through the gaze of the artist, the viewer gives their attention to the act of giving attention. In my own work my act of giving attention to subaltern subjects, specifically in my current paintings to non-gender normative subjects and/or subjects who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, serves the function of social intervention on behalf of those subjects who are often ‘invisible’ in the scheme of larger social narratives. My performance work follows the same conceptual vein, but focuses more on the ritual experience of systematically acknowledging and incorporating the perceptions of the subaltern subject into my own ontological experience as the artist. To that end I created my own religion, The Fellowship of the Incarnate Divine, as a structure through which to perform “truth acceptance” and interact with the non-art world subject without being perceived as working from inside of the structures of artist or performer. The question I am exploring going forward becomes whether or not I can move from the realm of theater or acting in my performance work into, through the perceptions collaborators have of my authenticity, the realm of ‘reality’.

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