The question of identity often begins with a curious tendency among people to ask WHAT before WHO. That is to say, people feel the need to ascribe certain restrictive identifiers, like gender binary (female-male), before ascribing personhood, as though a person weren’t fully a person at all until proper pronouns or labels can be placed. When someone walks by us swiftly, before we even realize who the person is, our mind makes a quick sweep of the person’s age, gender, race, shape, et cetera. In other words, identifying someone or something is initially dictated by our objective perceptions and our subjective, often habitual, and peripheral exercise of categorizing in types and schemata. In this process, we also negotiate our sense of individuality within a collective framework of difference by avoiding further questions of identity. Yet, it is our individual differences, which are shared and rooted in the very idea of identity, that inform us and enrich our culture; respectively, our culture, our collective effort in attending to our shared differences, helps us grow and better understand ourselves as individuals.
Queer, to me, is that act of questioning identity and suggesting a larger variety of forms and ideas about identity without fully defining it. As a response to my immediate surroundings, my work is a visual play of identities, a transgressive game of language, a material experiment, and a resistance to conform to literal figurations of what is and what has been depicted as being queer. Drawing upon and working against the grains of iconophilic tendencies in “queer” visual art, my work navigates the visual jungle of historically overlooked, yet highly developed, vernaculars of queer sensibility and eroticism by deliberately eschewing traditional figurative representations. In the process of negotiating the formal and material concerns of painting and subject, paint is reconfigured to act as a subject in the painting, a formal, material “self” that emphasizes its object-ness and its imaginative potential as a pictorial plane.
A painting is, therefore, a paint-made view — an always simulated view that weaves the physical world around and within on the same plane. On it, paint is the figure and the ground, whether it is on a wall, on a canvas, or on its material self. The texture of the paint-made surface then can be perceived as an extension of a physical reality (internal and external) and of an already-simulated space (experience), connecting through a sense of touch. Constructed upon systems of signification, self-referentiality, and differences, paint takes on the form of an interpretative tool in order to give shape to sensible yet invisible thoughts. Ambiguously structured in its form and content, paint acts as a figure grounded in meaning and history and also as a ground on which the meaning resides and history progresses. Affecting and affixing the seeming duality with layers and references, a paint-made view simulates its capacity to not only enhance the perceivable world but also introduce another by generating its own meaning.
In simulation, I zoom into the paint and thread it as a paint-made view in the effort to see how it sees and to see the trace of my identity.
“Look, look, look;
Feel, feel, feel;
Read, read, read;
Think color, think shape, think texture;
Write, write, write;
Find stuff on the ground, take pictures, put them on Instagram and Facebook;
Find an empty paint can, find a can opener, open up paint cans;
Pour the paint, mix the paint, add more paint;
Smell the paint, see the paint, feel the paint;
Respond, re-respond, re-re-re-respond;
Squirt out a copious amount of Vaseline Aloe Vera on the surface of a glass palette or a sheet of plastic, rub the dollops of lotion around and across the surface, massage the excess on dry skin and body;
Pour the paint slowly, look at it pour, not a splash nor a scratch;
Pick up the palette, keep a steady eye contact with the paint, dance with the paint on vaselined palette;
Move with the paint, spread it across, rotate it around;
Watch it, shape it, let the gravity work;
Breathe, look, set it down gently and let it rest;
Wait for it, respond, repeat the pour;
Shape, reshape, add more texture;
Get tired, get hungry, run out of breaths and run out of paint;
Repeat the above process all over, do it in multiples, let them dry overnight;
Go eat, go drink, go have sex or masturbate, come, go to bed;
Wake up, get up, make coffee, drink coffee, smoke a cigarette or two, start the day;
Get a ride from Chase, if not bike, get to the studio;
Turn on the lights, say hi to the old paintings on the wall, check on the pour;
Look, touch, feel, poke around with index finger;
Grab the scraper, check the blade, if dull get a new one from the stack that Will left;
Get some paper towels, wipe off the old lotion or paint dried up on the razor, keep the paper towels;
Cleave the outer edges of the dried paint from the palette’s surface, keep the steady pressure on the blade, glide the tip of the blade along the outer edges;
Put the scraper down, make sure the edges are peeled, check for any wet paint;
Support the bottom of the lifted edges with one hand, hold onto the top with another, begin pulling the inner remainder slowly but with momentum;
Watch the paint peel, pay attention to the tension and the surface friction, keep a steady pressure on the pull and the peel;
Watch the paint peel, look for any excess tearing, give it a rest when sticks and starts tearing;
Lock the edges with the tip of fingernails, gently lift up the edges that are stuck, dig in to peel off the scraps of paint like scabs on skin;
Place the peeled paint pour on a sheet of butcher paper,
Study its form, its materiality, its varying degrees of translucency, viscosity, texture,
Introduce another set of rules and play.