G E T I N M Y B E D
( S O M E O B J E C T S
A N D I D E A S)
F A N T A S Y F R I D A Y F T .
R E A L
A R T I S T
2 0 1 5 - 2 0 1 7
Fantasy Friday began because I was really tired of ppl saying I wasn't an artist and treating me like a silent sex object because I was stripping. Well that, and because my sister said that when she held a residency for artists at MacDonalds and said that I hadn't produced any work but here I was nightly producing what was certainly a persona - a very adaptable one that changed with the perceived needs of each of my clients.
I was sort of wondering what makes an artist, other than other artists believing that someone is or isn't. I think I was also really frustrated at the fact that drag, or the performativity of gender, and especially the performance of 'high femme', was only really recognised when it was being performed across a perceived binary, which can give drag really misogynistic resonances, actually. (I think this is changing a lot, now).
And I was also really tired of the narrative of objectification that pervaded art history - that completely erased the artistry of sex work, and femme work, and gendered labour - that saw the 'artist' as the one that wielded the gaze and the feminine sex working body as inactive, ineffectual and silent, and how this construct of labour worked to construct the gender binary. So I sort of became obsessed with trading whatever it is that sex work so often is (beyond the 'sex') - like moments of intimacy or domesticity or the performance of relationship - for the artistic capital of other artists. Like just openly embodying the sycophantic position. But in a calculated way.
I was also saddened by what had happened to my social life. That once I came out about sex work I felt this weird and horrible isolation, especially in the ways that people were so quick to daemonise or sexualise me, and so there was this kind of double entendre of using the framework of 'art' to legitimise myself within the social mores that it was assumed I belonged/aspired to… it was very psychologically dangerous (the isolation)
I remember going to a club after work at 5am one morning and meeting a drag queen who'd just come from pride and realising that pride just wasn't my politic anymore. There was so much crap going on in white lesbian circles at the time that to claim and perform your sexuality was only valid if you were not being paid because then you were 'a lady' [eyerole]. And cis-male friends, who'd just project onto me their fantasies of their own sexual emancipation through me, and the cis-women who'd make the enemy, or try save me.
I think this is changing too... I think there's almost an idea now that to be the right kind of queer you have to do sex work as a right of passage, which is equally problematic, I guess.But we live in problematic times hey so...
Anyway, Fantasy Friday was a night we used to have in the club (every Friday) where you would have to dress up according to a 'theme'. A sess pool of appropriative clothing and problematic references but you can't really expect much re political wokeness from a male run strip club.
P O S T - S H I F T S E S S I O N S
2 0 1 6
It frustrates when ppl say its 'been done' - you know, like in the cannons of western art history there are performence artists who've performed naked or performed as if they are sex workers... but I think there's huge difference between Abromovic dancing awkwardly in a red dress, or Steve Cohen wearing platform stilettos and someone who was at the time really full time stripping for money. Or Olympia as the object in Manet's work but never the agent. Not to say these actions don't carry their own 'risks', just to say that they are very specific and very different. I think the difference between playing sex worker vs being one is very context specific and nuanced and often not even always clear.This (non) distinction between being and performing a thing is very interesting and the kind of sex work I was doing confused this distinction a lot consistently (like 'are you my real girl-friend?', 'are we really dating?', 'will you really have sex with me?', 'do you really like me'). So it has been done - countless times over - just not by people who are validated ‘in society’ as artists. I was full-time stripping and trying to find ways for society ppl to recognise the art form without just Objectifying it. I think I was like advocating for sex work and everyday femme drag to get into the art Olympics, and re-think how we consider art audiences as like the jobs but also husbands and everyday life.
I N B E D W I T H A R T I S T S
R E S I D E N C Y
2 0 1 7
I became obsessed with 'The Residency' as this other legitimising mechanism based on access to various kinds of privilege etc, but also as this economic site where you could get funded for essentially doing nothing other than 'being an artist' or that you would pay to go to as a means of proving to people you were one...
Like maybe I was just obsessed with what that category means all along
A F T E R A F T E R P A R T Y
( R E S S U R E C T I O N )
2 0 1 9
Sex Work is so co-opted online that we forget that its still illegal in most places (including South Africa) and that this puts sex workers at intensified risk of mental health disorders, exclusion, GBV and police persecution. And its probably the worst in South Africa where GBV is really pandemic and we only came out of censorship in 1994 (whatever that means in a world of ongoing gender censorship through violence).
. Black, brown, indigenous and trans street sex workers are the most at risk. If you have the means consider donating to SWEAT (sex workers advocacy and education action team):
They are doing excellent work channeling resources directly to at risk Sex Workers whose livelihoods are made all the more precarious at this time.
A work printed in Diasec as a way of sort of laminating performance in plastic. You know, something to answer to the question ‘but is it archival’.
It was an exploration of life ‘in capitalist wastelands’ for bodies where narratives of progress had stopped making sense (I was reading Tsing at the time).
It is an out-take from the shoot. A moment less performed. I was sort of relieved when I saw it that the opacity of her head turned away suggested a life outside of 'the gaze'
I made it as a kind of intervention for the Sasol New Signature’s competition where they hung it on a marble wall and it won a merit award, although I think they missed the joke. I wrote some obtuse 'statement' justifying its submission.
A newspaper covering the awards wrote about it selaciously with the title 'sex sells'.
Although I often wonder if that is not how art is produced anyway - by making objects of… as in delineating and making a defined category of something to separate it from life so we can call it ‘art’. I mean, this all has to do with what we’ve defined as the mundane and domestic and non-payable, exploitable labour vs valuable (read masculine) work and the political and ‘transcendent within constructions of the western-patriarchal-colonial complex. Thats what museums do, and why the western canonisation of art, as separate to the ‘functional’ (read ‘alive’) provision of things is so problematic.
I think its interesting how this will change as a body of work depending on how old I am ... like it is already starting to. Especially as I move away from 'holidng the position' and doing this kind of work... like people often narrate sex work as a kind of embarrassing blip, and say 'well what about when you have children, and to be honest I am thinking about having children. And I am also thinking about what parts of life live beyond the tradable and outside of hegemonic capitalist discourse, and what parts of art live beyond the minefield of identity politics as its own kind of violence.
And what does it mean to 'regret' work, or have a work history based on the position of 'young femme' in a middle aged or older body. And claiming a body that is constantly open to change, that is aging and imperfect and not even... really singular or mine...