Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Becoming an Image

When I apply foundation, I shun sponges: get my fingers wet
and smear the clay directly on my face, blending with strokes
both light and heavy, until I have primed the surface
for shadow, blusher, the red infill of the lips, the smirking
challenge of a smoothly rendered brow. These are the choices
artists make: of medium and tools, and self as medium – the way
we best make use of limitation. We have learned
the craft of painting faces, got the knowledge
down into the muscle of our hands. A man who, boldly,
slaps oil to the canvas with the bare tips of his fingers
would be thought a daring artist, but when we perform
the same act on our faces it’s dismissed as mere frippery,
as feminine, as faggotry: the Pollock pose is only open
to the kind of guys who, blackout drunk, point their
Lacanian index at the lino, and unleash a stream
of tepid, coppery piss. We are thought miniaturist,
unacademic: ours is not a history of art. And if
we do decide to go as bold as Fauvists we are told
we look like clowns or drag queens.  We are feminine
until the point where what we make begins attracting notice
as deliberate, as willed, at which point, if we’re lucky,
someone asks us who decided on our look.

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