Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Destroy A Belt Buckle

Bang-On, iron-on pop culture, sells belt buckles. Heavy, solid, licensed, genuine belt buckles. Aztec calendars, bull skulls and snakes, heart-breakers, pirates, and dead Indians in feather head-dresses.

I mentioned to Nick, their delivery driver, that I didn't like it, and he shot me down with an argument as well-crafted as any of Sarah Palin's. Bang-On is a store selling an image, but once an image is in pop culture it's separated from its origin, and therefore this Indian Skull was pretty much meaningless and my opinion was not important.

The idea that imagery doesn't mean anything is a funny argument to bring up for a store which is so heavily based on image.

Having been stonewalled at Bang-On, I called the manufacturer, Bergamot Brass Works. I punched in the extension for the first name on the list, and left a message.

"Hello, my name is Katana Barnett, and I had a problem with one of your belt buckles. Thank you for calling me back at--"

I got a phone call shortly after from a salesman. He said he wasn't brushing me off, but that he'd approach his manager and get back to me.

I'm snowboarding the next day when my phone rings. It's Bergamot Brass works, and I sit down at the side of the run and explain.

This belt buckle reinforces stereotypes- especially that of the Noble Savage- that Indian people were primitive warriors and then they all died. That point of view is detrimental to social change.

"That certainly wasn't our intention at all."

Of course it wasn't. The reason these stereotypes hold power at all is because they are not intended, but subtly reinforced. That's why I called.

He says, "You know, I already made my decision. I've already decided we're going to discontinue the buckle, destroy the mold, and we won't fill any orders that have already been placed."

I tell him he's made my day.

So there's no more of this particular belt buckle. Bergamot Brass Works is a very nice company- they were extremely prompt with their follow-up and they were very open to hearing my opinion and very quick with the follow-up action step. Sometimes you just don't know any better.


PS. for more information, see Marcia Crosby. Also, tagged all of you because I think you are smart, intelligent, or artistic people and am curious as to what you think. opinions welcome.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Impression of Good Art

Context: the Vag
subject: Monet to Dali

for one the title of the exhibition does not adequately represent the
period that the works in the exhibition encompass. it's lesser known
artist A to lesser known artist B and I can see the pictures in my
mind but I can't remember them.

as soon as i walked into the room busy busy busy everything I knew -
dates, however frailly held in my mind- names of artists- styles- the
only thing I knew was that Impressionism got it's name from
Impression: Sunrise......... everything I knew was gone.

There's a peony, and I'm looking at the peony, and I'm thinking, it
looks like someone cut out a picture of a peony and made this painting
into a diorama.

Oh. Wait a second. That shadow is paint.

i've never seen a better shadow in my life. This shadow was GRAY.


And these artists with their distinctive,
one-track-mind-brilliance.................. oh my god.
i've heard of most of these artists, and seen images of their work--
They had Gustave Courbet in there.

some of these paintings what seems to be one layer of paint one layer
of paint that creates this perfect piece of reality. All of those
paintings; they could not be differently painted from how they were
and yet this one subject has been done by the artist in ELEVEN
different versions.

I can see why critics of their time wouldn't like them, some of them I
don't like but I'm awestruck by it, I'm awestruck, I can't say a word
I can't even THINK about the process that's going on, I want to cry or
move or dance or something and instead I am quiet and respectful and
stuck listening to these AWFUL pleasant nice older ladies saying,

"Now if you squint at the canvas, see how everything becomes more clear?"
"Oh, that's neat that you thought of that. I wouldn't have thought of that."

And it's a whole painting and each small portion has a detail that
reads as a tree or a blade of grass but the brushstroke's nearest
cousin is a kindergarten scrawl. And these scrawls are clouds! Fuck
careful applications of brushstrokes and fuck paint directly out of
the tube and fuck paint by numbers and people who say "I can't draw"
because honestly, it doesn't matter if you can draw if you can't SEE.
I feel blind.

And I want to stop and stare at all of them but, conflict, I want to
run and see what all they have in there and then- this clear loud
voice says, "Oh, in five minutes there will be a talk." And I want to
listen to this too so I go up to the forth floor and sit still for
half an hour, and by sit still it's careful quiet fidgeting and she's
talking about the pieces I haven't seen quite yet and I want to
run-run-run downstairs and see them and there's a Dali painting and
It's all I can do to sit still because!!! If this pretty, articulate
girl would ONLY stop talking I could see it- its

oil on canvas cracked finished varnished perfectly blended
chrome-oedipus-man-ant black shadow blended brown and teal and paint!
but can you tell there's paint when what you feel is


who dreams that?
what the fuck is wrong with this man and this kind of brilliance?
i feel drab........ inadequate.

And there's more and you know there's an incredible amount of work by
all of these artists that isn't here- it's a travelling exhibition- I
mean there's a WHOLE FUCKING GALLERY of Van Gogh in Amsterdam and it
was hard enough seeing that in only a few hours and harder still to
remember it when you're back from that visually-intensive high.

There's too many peope, there's too much paint, its all so different,
all these different visual VOICES and they all, every single one of
them, want me to look at each single brushstroke and imagine the

layers of paint spaces pencil and ink and thought and process and politics

i can't do it i can't do it and i can't even begin to PAINT like that
but I need to I HAVE to do it the only weapon I have are my
paintbrushes, I ruin them, I fail at painting, I have no voice, I have
no OUTLET, I want my paintings OUT of my house, and i need to move I
need to paint, but I'm shaky right now and frightened and I can't, I
really can't....

After seeing good painting, it changes the way I look at things and
right now everywhere I look I'm seeing reflected highlights saturated
colours and dark dark hues and negative spaces and subtle shifting
lines and i feel exhilerated, ruined, wrecked, stunned.........

exonerated from any expectations of achieving anything with my art but
I want to punch something because right now

THAT IS ALL I REALLY WANT. (to achieve something intangible, not to
punch something)

And they had Mondrian there- one of those beautiful simple utopias
I've been affectionate towards since they remind me of my margin
doodlings, with the grid pattern and primary colours like Bic pens-
and i was shocked! it's just a shallow thin surface with the grain
showing through the red paint- and a frail wooden thing 'round it- the
presentation would hardly get one anywhere in contemporary art's
Clean-cut Glass Hook and Eye Mounted Presentation Is Everything. But
it must, I mean, it's Mondrien and it's in a glass case now, but it
looks so quick-and-dirty. In my mind it was MADE of glass. I knew it
wasn't, but one can't help the subconcious.

If I had to go to work right now I would provide the worst customer
service because I honestly cannot think past my sockets right now and
i'm gonna paint, i'm gonna try, because that's what i DO, but

beyond the SHEER VISUAL ADDICTION, there is more to subject matter
than just paint and I want to think about that but it's almost hard to
get over that too.......

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Quote

Only a born artist can endure the labour of becoming one
Comtesse Diane, 1908

Nestor Kruger ... an artist whose work somehow impressed me

Orientalism's Fashion

Orientalism's Fashion:
John Galliano's Spring 2007 Couture Collection
critiqued through Edward Said's Orientalism

In Spring 2007, following a tour of Japan, John Galliano created a collection for Christian Dior which pulled elements from Japanese culture into couture looks. This is a clear example of how Orientalism functions in contemporary times in the same way that it did 100 years ago. This Oriental world which was displayed in museums or defined in theories is now walking the runway. Galliano takes the part of the colonialist explorer, owning and taking credit for the Orient, while maintaining the view that the people are 'other' and making an exotic fantasy out of the actual geographic place.

The collection contains a variety of couture gowns and dresses, but they have unifying elements which makes it easier to look at the collection as a whole, instead of an individual look. From the fabrics, to the folded origami shapes, to platform heels, an exotic, foreign look is established through appropriation of Japanese cultural representations. Looking at a piece individually may make the Oriental influences less apparent, since there are also Western influences in the design, but the thematic elements that give the collection unity are all Oriental. To begin with, the models all have white-face makeup in the geisha style, with anime eyes of exaggerated eyebrows and large swatches of colour. They wear heels with shapes influenced by geisha geta sandals. Hair is always pulled back in round pompadours and hairpieces are intricate ovals like Japanese sun-hats. The gowns themselves are brilliantly colour silks with floral designs, and are very sculptural, incorporating origami folds and shapes into the structure and sculptural elements of the clothing and sashes referencing the Japanese obi.

In fashion, designers create two lines of clothing. Couture is a theatrical production with extravagant, unwearable clothing that only a few very rich or well-connected people would purchase, while ready to wear lines are more practical and wearable. The corresponding ready-to-wear collection for Spring 2007 had none of the colours or silhouettes that the couture collection did. Galliano reinforced the otherness of Orientalism by basing his couture collection around the Orient, because that collection is the one that draws attention to the clothing, adding to the construction of Orientalism as an exotic curiosity. The situation of the Orient in the couture collection reinforces the divide between east and west.

In colonial times, the Orient was viewed as an experience. Said writes, "When Disraeli said in his novel Tancred that the East was a career, he meant that to be interested in the East was something bright young Westerners would find to be an all-consuming passion (132)." Galliano seems to be a part of this; he tours Japan and comes back to create a huge spectacle of Japanese cultural appropriation, featuring everything from origami to basket-weaving in his fashion career. Said says that the ideas of Orientalism were influenced by those who went to the Orient, as explorers, missionaries, or merchants, and Galliano has become one of these. This fashion inspiration parallels the Orientalism of the 1890's, where similar inspiration dressed Victorian ladies in 'Oriental' dressing gowns and fabrics.

Said uses the example a wealthy, foreign, male who speaks for an Egyptian courtesan, and refers to her as 'typically Oriental' (133) to show who perpetuates the stereotype. Galliano, a man with similar characteristics, is speaking the visual language with 'typical Oriental' elements in his runway show, about models. The comparison could also be drawn between the models and the Egyptian courtesan.

The models showing the clothes on the runway are not Asian. They are either black or white models; Asian women are rarely seen on the runway. This correlates with the way that the construction of Orientalism places the dominant culture in a position of power over the Orient, where the Orient is not a contributing part of the framework. The ethnic subject is absent and a new non-existant construction has replaced her. Galliano takes credit for the entire collection, although it is all reworked from Japanese traditional elements. The Galliano collection doesn't use any traditional silhouettes. Instead of the cylindrical shapes of traditional kimonos, the Galliano collection still show a female silhouette. I think that this shows that he is using the elements of Japanese culture to create something that is more about the person looking at it from an outsider's perspective.

The couture collection is a fantasy in clothing. Said says that "One ought never to assume that the structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blow away." In the floaty, light-coloured clothing of the collection, this myth seems personified; it creates a fantasy land of exotic origami feminine creatures, but behind this, there is a 'body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been considerable material investment (133)." This phrase can be taken on two levels- fashion houses as institutions of design and the point of view imparted by Orientalism. The whole Galliano collection is a European fantasy, which is what creates Orientalism, according to Said. The politics of fashion underneath the design house support the myths of Orientalism.

Many of the elements in the fashion line are not the everyday life of the Japanese people- kimonos are formal, special-occasion wear, samurais are a thing of the past. Anime is media which is also consumed by Westerners and isn't a realistic part of life in any culture, although the collection is ostensibly based upon Galliano's observances of Japan.

Said states that Orientalism depends on the assumption that the Westerner has the upper hand in his relationship with the Orient. Indeed, Galliano's tour of Japan is the manifestation of this, where he goes to the Orient and comes back with these ideas for a collection in the same way that the scientist or scholar or missionary "could be there...with very little resistance on the Orient's part (134)." The most blatant manifestation of the colonial in a foreign place comes when Galliano steps onto the runway. He is wearing a costume complete with what appears to be a British or Spanish military jacket, tricorn hat, gold braid and red sash, white trousers and over the knee boots. After his Japanese appropriation, he walks in looking every inch the colonial explorer, complete with a curly blonde wig, becoming the colonial master with success based on his interpretation of an absent culture.

This couture example of Orientalism in contemporary times shows that the politics and political framing of the Asian other is still functioning behind the Western view of the Orient. The purposes of fashion is to create something exotic, something alluring, something different from the banal everyday as a commodity, and this purpose is served by the construction of Orientalism, according to Edward Said. The comparison is so blatant it is almost funny.


Mower, Sarah. "Christian Dior Spring 2007 Couture Collection." Style.Com. 2007. 26 Feb. 2008 .

La Belle Epoque at the Vancouver Museum

Women's Fashions of
La Belle Époque 1890 - 1914

I went and saw La Belle Époque which showcased real clothing from the 1890 - 1914. I was surprised that much of the clothing was from Vancouver or British Columbia, because with all of the research I've done on the internet, the fashion center was France. But these clothes were worn by real women, which is amazing because the silhouettes range from high busted, narrow waisted figures, to even the non-mainstream fashions of women who refused to wear corsets. Everything was exquisite, and would easily cost a thousand dollars to reproduce today. There was a teal corset, black boots with dozens of straps but no tongue, brightly coloured accessories, and dresses with pleats and draping and painstaking details. Although the exhibit was not large- you could walk around the room in three minutes- it's easy to spend upwards of an hour peering at the beautiful textiles, seaming details, ornamentation, and comparing the evolving styles with each other and with contemporary clothing.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Postmodernism Essay/Musings.

Postmodernism is old art done in a new way. In order to explore the aesthetic and social issues of postmodernism, the resulting schools of thought in the art world can be divided into a 'postmodernism of resistance [and] a postmodernism of reaction' as proposed by the group around the journal, October. (Hopkins).
Dividing postmodernism is like splitting a plate of spaghetti into two halves with a spoon. It can be done, but it is neither clean nor exact, and it is hard to differentiate one pile from the other, at first glance. However, this contrast is an important distinction in art because in order to keep a fresh edge on new artistic pursuits, old ideas should not stagnate, but be reinvigorated through the practice of new artists. This can be done in two ways: a postmodernism of resistance is the appropriation of imagery, demonstrated by Cindy Sherman; and the postmodernism of reaction, which is the amalgamating of the old and new, as in the work of Yasumasa Morimura. Both of these artists are photographers who are using the visual language of what has come before them to say something on their own terms, with their own self-portraits but are approaching it in these two different postmodern ways.
Postmodernism is a term that describes the paradigm shift happening in the world after modernism. Postmodernism is the change from the tenets of modernism that occurred not just in art, but also architecture, literature, and other disciplines. This shift takes place from shortly after 1945 and World War II, until contemporary times (Bertens, 162). In the art world, this meant moving away from the modernism canonized in institutions like New York's Museum of Modern Art. (Connor, 5) and this movement can be divided into the postmodernism of resistance and the postmodernism of reaction. According to Usher, a postmodernism of resistance and a postmodernism of reaction play off each other.
The postmodernism of resistance is esoteric, self-referential work, which appropriates the imagery of other artists and the work of modernism. The postmodernism of resistance is to 'deconstruct modernism and resist the status quo' (Usher, 16). By subverting what has come before it, the work begins to reference itself, becoming more inaccessible for people who are unfamiliar with its allusions.
An example of this is the photography of Cindy Sherman, who counters Hollywood culture with her series “Untitled Film Stills” (Connor, 89). Cindy Sherman is deconstructive; she is not original in her compositions or the way she sets up her props or her body; she appropriates "Hollywood film stills” and so she puts herself into the stereotypical characters that are often present onscreen: the housewife; the sex-pot; the ingénue.

"The… inscribing is as evident as the subverting challenge in, for example, Cindy Sherman's early self-posed self-portraits modeled on Hollywood film stills… they are hardly innocent or uncompromised.” (Hutcheon, 13)

Her body is the thread that pulls together her series of film stills, which are also self-portraits. However, by copying the visual language of movies, and placing herself in the female roles, she removes the individuality a self-portrait usually carries. This lack of individuality, the appropriation of visual language, and this theft of voice are key components of postmodernism of resistance.
The postmodernism of reaction plays off of the postmodernism of resistance. The postmodern art of reaction is the combination of old and new ideas into an eclectic mode of expression in hopes of shocking or unsettling the jaded postmodern person.
Instead of stealing and subverting, as the postmodernism of resistance does, a postmodernism of reaction is the product of an amalgamation of both old and new ideas. This repudiates Modernism, which was completely about the avant-garde. This amalgamation is a reaction to modernism, as well as a return to old traditions (Buchloh, 40). It is the sudden return to old traditions such as representational painting after the modernist departure from these more traditional modes of artistic production that Buchloh criticizes.
An example of old ideas combined with the new is Yasumasa Morimura, who is a Japanese photographer who inserts himself into art history, using iconic paintings and combining them with his own self-portrait. Unlike Sherman, whose body is a stand-in for the character, Morimura imbrues his presence in his photographs. Instead of trying passively, to pretend to be the character, he remains himself, complete with his Tran sexuality and his Japanese heritage, and this combination creates a rich vocabulary that gives his work a strong voice.
For example, Morimura converts Manet's classic painting Olympia into a photograph titled Portrait (Futago), and mixes himself in, with the postmodernist's ladle. This stirs the subtleties of his own identity in with the art history that the painting Olympia already carries (West, 211).
Buchloh thinks that this return to old ways of thinking also returns value to the male gaze. However, Yasumasa Morimura uses this male gaze for his own purposes. He pretends to be a woman in the same comical fashion as a man dressed up for Halloween- still obviously a man, but self-confidently appearing in the part of a woman.
The appropriation and the amalgamation of postmodernism is a circular process. Since postmodernism uses what has come before it, eventually postmodern art turns into an ouroboros, endlessly referencing itself. For example, Morimura's work, "To my little sister: For Cindy Sherman" (1998) sees Morimura inserting himself into Sherman's appropriations (Balkema, 98). This work is a perfect example of how seemingly opposing postmodernist approaches play off each other and artists recycle each other’s imagery.
Neither form of postmodernism would stand without the history of the work they are appropriating. Postmodernism is nothing and everything: nothing, because by its existence it is unoriginal. Postmodernism is chewing modernism's cud; the difference between resistance and reaction is which of the cow's stomachs this digestive muck is sitting in; it all ends up in the same place.
Essentially, postmodernism in the art world is the manner things, which have already been done, are incorporated into contemporary works. On one hand, there is the postmodernism of resistance and the work of Cindy Sherman, which is the appropriation of the old, and on the other hand is the postmodernism of resistance and the work of Yasumasa Morimura, which is an amalgamation of the old. In the postmodern world, there is really no new way to do things, but there are always new individuals to insert into the big picture.

Stuart Hall

The Stuart Hall reading, Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices is an interesting breakdown of the flow between the concrete world of physicality and experiences, the mental understanding of this, and the subsequent communication between people, especially in regards to cultural experience and language. For the most part, Hall provides plausible arguments about the system that surrounds communication and culture.

Stuart Hall argues that meaning and language are connected to culture through representation. Language carries meaning; either reflective, intentional, or constructionist. These meanings are shared by a culture, through shared representations or cultural maps. Reflective meaning is intrinsic, intentional is intended by the author, and constructionist is the result of language. He says that language constructs meaning: "The main point is that meaning does not inhere in things, in the world. It is constructed, produced. It is the result of a signifying practice- a practice that produces meaning, that makes things mean (Hall, 24)." Essentially, he is writing about the usage of language to construct meaning, while using urban legend and mythological, ethnocentric findings to buttress his argument.

The inaccurate report he cites is the Scott Polar Research Institute in Table 1.1 (Hall, 23), that indicates Inuit use multiple terms for snow and ice. This is a faulty case-study popularized by the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis was a linguistic theory that explored the difference between the way a culture thought and its vocabulary. The example that the Inuit terms for snow show that different languages impart different meanings onto the same physical symbol. In the Inuit language, prefixes and suffixes can be added to a root word to change its meaning, while in English, adjectives and descriptive clauses accomplish the same effect (Harley, 82).

Stewart Hall is making an argument that meaning is affected by the language of the culture. This is called constructivism, and this particular version is set forth in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Essentially, this means that a culture's thinking is affected by the words it has at its disposal. I don't agree with this, because the meaning of words changes according to the culture's needs. As well, the words available to a culture can be rearranged to form new meanings and abstract thoughts. Hall uses the example of the Inuit's words for snow to illustrate this. This particular example which he is using is an urban legend, which makes his claims unsubstantial.

This reading not only perpetuates this myth, that of the Inuit having a different way of thinking about snow, but also a linguistic hypothesis that is unsubstantial. Hall's choice of linguistic construct negates his whole point. He is using a manipulated version of the Inuit language to prove a point about meaning and language.

The idea that thought patterns differ based on grammatical analysis of language is one that was first proposed by Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir (Wilton, 51). The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was based on an analysis of the recorded grammar of the Apache. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was faulty, because of the difference between thought patterns and written language. Hall himself makes this differentiation through his definitions of intentional, reflective, and constructivist meaning. The only validity of this argument is that it is easier to communicate if one has a succinct word instead of a rambling paragraph.

This problem regarding the way that Inuit languages is so out-dated it is unbelievable that it is still being disseminated in university level texts. A class meant to provide a history of non-western art should avoid using the stereotypes and urban legends that have perpetuated past misconceptions about non-western cultures. As a First Nations student who has not had the opportunity to learn the Th Cree dialect, I am insulted that the only Native American language education I have ever encountered, even in passing, is an urban legend based upon a linguistic theory that only holds merit in its most diluted form.

Jennifer Schecter

an essay for Emily Carr University Spring Semester about Jennifer Schecter of The L Word. Assumes you're familiar with the premise of the show and the characters. Parallel between the coursepack's content.


Where is she?
Jennifer Schecter.


Jennifer Schecter of The L Word lives her life out in metaphor, through stripping, as a cutter, as a romantic, as an author, as a diva. She finds strength when she finds a voice through her writing. Her life is a thread in the book cum film within Showtime's series The L Word, remembered in cinematic vignettes of a repressed, traumatized childhood and then expressed through her sexuality and the writing of Les Girls.

Her thoughts work through the opposition of her ex-husband Tim, of her lover Marina, of her friends, and her financial backers of Les Girls, even of her assistant Adele. Tim gives her a revenge fuck after discovering Jenny's affair with Marina, and leaves her. Marina casually mentions she is already in an open relationship, to Jenny after the fact. Issues with the production of the movie cause Jenny a significant number of problems. Yet Jenny still finds a way to maintain her character, sometimes falling into selfish behavior of a diva, but always keeping her focus on her writing, on her creativity. These conflicts lead to material for her book and ultimately, success.

She deals with the hierarchies of the publishing company. She is the backup plan for Carmen, besotted with Shane. Her childhood is a myth that she remembers in grotesque flashbacks. She orders her world with razor-blades, than with stripping, than with books. Through all this she is coupled, with her husband, her childhood, with the male gaze.



Theory of culture, her deconstruction of lesbian life at The Planet. Theory of society, the strip club atmosphere. Art, her writing, family, her mother's apology, language, her writing- it brings her to light. Yet the destruction of these pairings is necessary- her divorce from Tim, stopping her self-destructive cutting- which makes it able for her to move forward. A war loosed- the dramatic sense necessary for a television sitcom. Death is always at work- Jenny oscillates between a diva's happiness and a pessimist's suicidal thoughts.

Her relationships with authority figures
Monsieur Hallsey/ daughter

Jenny both is objectified by the male gaze as she strips at a country bar. Women existing as entertainment is something that she is familiar with, both as a writer and a performer. Her strip performance borders on performance art, differing dramatically from the pretty girl appearances of the other strippers. Her female body is a source of power that has been repressed by the masculine in her life, Tim, the literary world, and the clown figures in her childhood, by her own repressing mind and memory.

Tim, her husband, leaves her when he discovers that Jenny is bisexual. Although he wanted to hear the fantasy, when the reality was she was not centered around him, with his need to love himself he was unable to stay with her. The fantasy was ideal when it had the male as a privileged viewer, but when he finds himself excluded, as a secondary power in her life, he leaves. The give and take of the relationship was no longer in the male favor.

Jenny's stripping in the bar, gives her the choice of how the male gaze views her. It helps her remember childhood traumas and vague nightmare memories. By using the male gaze she finds a voice to her fears and distrust of people. She speaks with her body, with the cold clinical manner her body language says as she takes her clothes off, and with her eyes. This confusion of body and exhibitionism is a performance that speaks what she herself cannot.

When she can no longer speak with the tongue she expresses herself again with her body, with blood and razors. This is a final cry for help that gets her to a place where she can heal, when Shane discovers her in the bathroom. She deconstructs her flesh, in an attempt to construct her memory.

Jenny does the objectifying herself, as she writes a book about her friends and the lesbian life around her. As they have no input into her book, only discovering it with publication, Jenny's point of view becomes the truth, like the male voice often has. By taking control of her situation, she uses both the masculine and the feminine as a source of power through weakness, exemplifying the bisexual. The title of her book, Sum of her Parts, speaks to Cixous' 'self proper.' Jenny's book is about becoming a whole out of circumstance, out of events and memories, out of the drama and betrayal, out of her life, centering herself like the sun in the world of The Planet. Jenny writes with red ink, and then white, as she holds her friends under a critical eye and absolves herself. Her story becomes constructed with her history.

Jenny's writing is a work that transforms. When Adele appears at The Planet, the book Sum of her Parts is the motivating factor. Both the book and Adele are moments that start small and end up having huge repercussions, in the story line of the Les Girls movie within The L Word television show. The pieces that began small end up having exponential impact.

Shane, as a masculine androgynous character, is her best friend and a source of strength for Jenny. When Shane betrays her by cheating on her, Jenny again finds herself at the mercy of the masculine. She says, "you've broken my heart," speaking from her heart, as the one excluded. Jenny speaks onstage, to a gathering, people who are not her followers but follow the direction she set out for them, that she is madly in love, casting her voice and body out to be heard, only to find that she is the only one there. She sets herself loose only to find herself alone. It is the second torture of speaking aloud.

Jenny, as the director for her movie Les Girls, becomes the male voice telling the woman how to be sexual, a role played by the male. While shooting a scene for Les Girls, she directs , "It might be nice if you looked like you were, you know, actually giving her pleasure rather than moving furniture... That looks like you're sewing up a hole in her jeans." The woman of The L Word know how to use their bodies to give pleasure to themselves and to their lovers, something that the straight woman does not , evidenced by the straight actresses. As sex with woman is not centered around the phallus, woman who live centered around the phallus find themselves at a loss to do anything with a body that is like their own.

Jenny is also on the other side of the coin. When it comes to her own love life, it is the producers who are trying to direct her. They send Nikki to her premier without Jenny. When she no longer has a say in what is happening in her relationship, again her body speaks for her with tears and angry gestures. Her girlfriend sleeps with a man, and Jenny finds that her relationship is threatened by the male phallus, the 'dumb-shit actor boy' who shows off Nikki at the premier. Jenny gives Nikki a second chance, she gives without reservation. But there is never something given for nothing, and this affects the relationship later on, when Nikki again cheats on Jenny.

Nikki is a bisexual, who, regrettably, is required by her agent and her contract to be heterosexual, or to be portrayed as heterosexual. Despite the fact she was chosen to play the bisexual lead in Les Girls, the heat behind her stardom is driven by her centerfold appearance, catering to the male audience, instead of being allowed to speak honestly with her body and her choices. Again, the gender of the couple playing a role in the dynamic of the relationship, dictated by cultural norms and expectations. On one hand it is empowering for Nikki and Jenny, on the other, it causes them both to loose credibility.

When Jenny rejects the perspective of the mainstream for the end of her movie, she looses her voice as her movie is taken over by her assistant, Adele, who is more than willing to sell out for a major distributor. By returning the character Jesse to her male lover, Adele allows the male power to dominate, and in return Adele is able to gain more power, breaking into the film industry. She functions within man's discourse, while Jenny's ending choice functioned apart from it- making it 'too gay.'

But ultimately, "too gay" is simply when the female/male balance becomes tipped in the feminine favour. Jennifer Schecter is a bisexual who struggles through the opposition of a male-dominated society to find her voice to speak with her words and her body, a struggle that she wins and, at time, fails in a heartbreaking way. She is a complex character embodying the sum of the female and the masculine in the thread of her life that she writes in her book and bodily expressed in the movie within the television show The L Word.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Inherant Meaning....

Installation view, Fog, 2004
2 rollei medium format projectors, medium format slides
Courtesy Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver

So I was reading Raymond Williams' Keynotes the other day; yesterday, in fact. He is exploring everyone's ideas about a word, although he is aware of his own biases. He is defining the variations of complicated words and at the same time saying they are impossible to pin down.

And I was also reading another excerpt, this time from one of my coursepacks, about how language carries different meanings. There is the intended meaning of the artist, and the symbolic meaning (for example, the symbolism inherent in the Christian cross).

This applies to Kevin Schmidt's work because his fog and forest things were vastly different in the interpretation I got from seeing them and what he had to say about them.

I thought it was more about the desire for magical experience, the desire for phenomena to take us out of ourselves.

He said that by putting this art piece in a darkened room it made the viewer very aware of themselves in the gallery space, instead of dissociating themselves from it the way they would if it was a paper-photograph on a white wall.

Make sense? Both views are about the viewer, about the presence of the viewer's body in relation to the artwork, but they're both a little different. It's neat to be able to draw my own conclusions about a work and then hear the artists' opinion. (I'm sure my paraphrase isn't entirely accurate, but que sera sera.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kevin Schmidt is Awesome

So last semester, one of my favorite professors, Cristine D'Onofrio was often showing us slideshows of photographs, and a lot of them were really interesting. She showed some of Kevin Schmidt's works, too, and I didn't make note of the name, but the art stuck in my mind as being INCREDIBLE and interesting and basically, right up my alley.

Then I'm sitting in my Installation class, and our bland looking professor is like, "let me show you some of my work." And it was this stuff. I am so excited to have a professor whose work I am really interested in, because I am sure I will learn a lot. I'll let you know in three monthes if I did or not, and will post a bit more in the future about what and why I like it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


If the white cube is the gallery space, and the theatre space is the black cube. Does that make reality a gray area?

(photos: Arabella Campbell and Karen Kucharski)

If I make a Blaqk Audio vs. White Video regarding the members of AFI, do you know what I reference? I don't know where to find it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Portfolio; what to expect from an Online Course

I have some online portfolios here, which perhaps you may be interested in. This is the sort of thing an online course at ECIAD will result in. If you're interested in my final mark for this work, it was a "B".

E-Katana work

Critiques of Classmates

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Creativity Manifests itself in Tall Tales

My real name is not Katana, but its the name that everyone knows me by. All my ID, of course, says Tamara.

I am sitting around a table at a pizza parlour in California with friends. We've set up a makeshift poker game with a deck made out of photo ID, reward cards, hotel swipe cards, et cetera, found in our wallets.

JB is looking at the Queens, which consists of my drivers' license, student cards, and security guard ID, and they all have pictures taken last year. He observes, "How come none of these actually says Tamara on them?"

"I have a DUI and we had to cross the border from Canada so I borrowed her ID and her name is Tamara."

He looks at the pictures, than at me. Katana, with her poker face, and Tamara, unsmiling plastic photographs. "Oh, okay. I see- yeah, her jawline is lower than yours." And Katana is prettier than her twin sister.

Or, more accurately, I am not so photogenic.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Luc Tuymans

Detail from Maypole. (2000, Oil on Canvas)

What I love about Luc Tuymans' work is how dreamlike it is. The subtle variations of colour give a thick atmosphere to the paintings, the same way that fog defines a landscape when it sinks onto the ground.