It’s been on my to-do list to write an update for two weeks now, and for two weeks I have procrastinated until I have The Time, but I never do have The Time, so here I am without The Time getting something briefly down. This is supposedly better than nothing. The jury remains divided.
The above triptych represents my progress in pictorial form: I’ve been trying to make embroidered photos as practice for my final exhibition but it turns out that while I am good at embroidery, middling-to-fair at photography, I am crappola big-time-rubbishly-awful at embroidered photos. They’ve all been bad. It’s confusing, frustrating. So one day I threw paint on a photo instead, to kind of show the excruciation of a cluster headache, and I knew it was confronting but I put it on Instagram anyway and someone said it would be triggering for domestic violence victims and I thought a) likely true, and b) why do I so often feel like I’m being asked to tone it down, shut it up, go back under my rock? It felt a little like my own experience was being judged as less worthy of a voice. Cluster headaches are shockingly violent, and I sit alone in the middle of the night in the corner of my bedroom in absolute agony until they pass and I do think that this painted photo bears witness to the experience. I also think that my commenter is not wrong about it looking like I’ve been beaten up, and I don’t want to traumatise a group of people who deserve only kindness and support, so back to the drawing board for me. I don’t suppose it’s that good anyway. So, yay me, lots of effort and very little progress.
Photo number 2 taken just this week, because shit I am still so tired and feel like a bloody athletic champion if I get dinner on and the washing done, let alone actual academic words down on an actual academic paper. The irony isn’t lost that said paper is about fatigue. It’s hard to pull complex and disparate ideas into some kind of publishable whole, but we plod on, we always plod on. I am becoming very interested in the taboo of the body’s insides, it’s aversive monstrousness, and, not unrelatedly, the sugarcoating of medical illustration. Sugarcoating isn’t the right word, but I can’t find that right word just now, so it will have to do. Also, and also not unrelatedly, how feminist discourse on the strength of a woman’s body reinforces the whole dichotomous idea of toughness = good, weakness = bad. That photo of me? I know I look like shit. I know I look unhealthy and fatigued and the opposite of whatever a kickass strong and self-sufficient woman is supposed to look like. But I find something quite tender, and almost beautiful, in that photo. Perhaps it’s that I’m wearing my mortality on my face so clearly, revealing the secret weakness of all our vulnerable biological selves so obviously, and perhaps that reminds me that I’m very much still actually alive. We think of bodies who show their inside illness on their outside as somehow closer to death than other bodies I think. But they’re not. We’re all just one heartbeat away from the void, and lord but do we as a culture recoil from that knowledge. I don’t enjoy the experience of such constant fatigue; like it says on the label, it’s exhausting. But I do believe that my body is as equally and vitally alive as any other body, that aliveness is not a scale, nor vigor a virtue.
So yeah. That’s what I’ve been up to. Also I’m still drawing faces, which is apropos of nothing, I just wanted you to know.