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.