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Tempted. 2023. original sound and video.

Sound and image from a recent time and place.

Dark Fantasy. 2023. original sound and video.

Sound and image from a recent time and place.

It was Taylor Swift’s folklore era.  It was Covid.  I was in this mass internet consciousness with everyone, exploring the culture, ideas, politics, experience, remotely, isolated in the country, house sitting for my mom, taking care of pets, working for a likely mentally ill man who ran a tinctures business and ran his family like a cult leader.  I wanted to tell the story of this how it felt to me, without presenting myself as especially significant in any way (which I certainly don’t believe), and I think I got close to that in this work.


Daylight was originally a sound piece I composed during the fall of 2020.  It is made from 1) a series of personal voice memos I never intended to share and 2) recordings of myself singing several Taylor Swift songs, the most prevalent of which is “Daylight,” from the 2019 album Lover.


Over the past three years, the piece morphed from sound to performance as I presented it Icosa Collective for the group performance show called Transmissions (2020).  Following the performance, which was documented by film writer, director, and producer Jeffrey Garcia, the piece morphed again from performance to video.  I spliced sound, performance documentation footage, and iphone videos (most of which are me recording computer and TV screenswhile watching moves and shows, capturing images and ideas that interest and disturb me) in a rhythm to compose the final visual work.  All sound and video are from a particular period from May 2020-January 2021 in which I experienced the onset of a chronic illness and some bad relationship situations.


I made the initial recording in an attempt to reconcile my experience of life and love with Taylor Swift’s.  It is a comparison of manifestations of human experience.  I have emotions related to the comparison.  For example, I feel a sort of desolation and rejection and disgust with myself when I realize the glittering world of romance in Taylor’s songs is nothing like what I’ve experienced in many ways.  This desolation sometimes transforms into resentment, and I feel like I want to attack the world that presents a false vision of white femininity (for sale and consumption) as a dramatic fantasy.  However, I consider my emotional experience to be only a part of the final work, which I see as more of an intellectual exercise than some sort of catharsis, which it certainly is not.  Other times, I am struck but the similarities between my emotional experience and Taylor Swift's, and I think this must be what most people feel when they listen to her music.  This feeling is what makes it popular and universal.  This simultaneous difference and sameness of experience is what fascinates me, and is a big part of what Daylight is about.


My first inspiration for the piece was to record the abjection of illness, ugly sexual experiences, loneliness, and isolation, alongside the messages and sounds of Taylor’s songs.  The idea is not that my art and Taylor Swift’s art (my experience and Taylor Swift’s experience) are totally different.  Instead, I am fascinated by the fact that, in some lights, they are very similar and in some very different.  It is my subjective perception of the world and self-ideation that cause me to define myself in alignment with or out of alignment with Taylor Swift.


In the song “Daylight,” Taylor contrasts the positive experience of getting to know Joe Alwyn with the experience of a “dark night.”  I take the phrase “dark night” as a reference to the idea of the dark night of the soul, described in the poem of the same name by St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Catholic mystic whose work I have studied extensively.  I’m not Christian, but I find this poem essential to understanding my own suffering as well as others’ suffering.  My sound piece, Daylight, is organized formally into peaks and valleys that indicate moments of desolation and moments of freedom, marked by the repeating of the phrases “daylight” and “dark night,” a structure Taylor’s song also uses.


Another important part of this work has been the way I am learning to handle ”experience” as the source material for everything I do artistically.  Experience without judgement.  I am what you might call a hardcore phenomenologist.  The longer I live, observe, and make artwork, following my own observations of life and admissions about what I encounter, the more I feel that messages, ideas, concepts, and particular meanings are not for me.  At least in the particular order in which art has conceived them through conceptual frameworks.  Maybe my work is conceptual, but not from the point of making or conceiving.  It is organized and presented based on ideas after it has been conceived then made. Daylight is significant to me because it is a sweeping document of a time and place in my life, aestheticized. Sound, performance, and video are sometimes closer to experience than other forms I use regularly, like painting and drawing.  Many of my experiences from this time were screen, sound, or iphone based.  

Links to individual Performance Clips with Descriptions

In Search of the Dumb Cunt's Lost Memories

Game Day or Rape, Interrupted

Victoria Saint

Descriptions of Undocumented Performances

Painting and Fondling (2018)

A small group of students and faculty (10-15 total people) gather around a an old display case in an old academic building.  The hallway is lit with fluorescent ceiling lights and is small.  The space feels a bit neglected.  There is a tense feeling among the group.

A single painting hangs in the glass display case (roughly a little bit bigger than 18"x24", with a nice sturdy had made stretcher and hand stretched canvas, hand gessoed...its a nice, real objet-y painting).  The painting, made by me, is a self portrait.  My face takes up about half the picture plane.  My expression is earnest.  Most of the painting is made with dull, muddy colors, but a single tear rolling down my cheek is oversized (about the size of a quarter (25 cents)) and cerulean blue, undiluted.  Similarly, my hair is yellow, though everyone knows my actual hair is brown :/.  My face is in the foreground.  There isn't much of a middle ground, but the background contains a mirror with a creepy looking pregnant woman in it.  

As the group settles in for a critique experience (I'm in grad school), I approach the glass display case, wearing a loose, camel colored onesie from Target.  Its a bit big on me, especially in the chest/breasts area.  I wear a pink bralette underneath the onesie. 


As I reach to open the glass display case, my onesie slips from my shoulders, revealing my pink, unpadded bralette.  "Whoops!"

I remove the painting from the display case after putting on a pair of blue latex exam gloves.  I turn to face the group.

I discuss the relationship between my body and the painting, fondling both my breasts (through the bralette) and the painting as I monologue.  I discuss embodiment, physicality in the painting process, the similarities between looking at me and looking at a painting, the connections between the artist's life and art. 

Some laugh.  One professor, kjbakbjsdbjkzc, exclaims "It's pure Andrea Fraser!"  Another, lscflhassa, states "You are impenetrably clever."  He implies that I am not allowing a straight reading of my work.  I take it to mean that he wishes me to be more "open", "transparent", "yielding".  None of the female or queer faculty comment.  Barnaby Fitzgerald engages freely in dialogue with me, as though nothing is different from a normal interaction.

Performance concludes when I get tired of talking.

Running (2018)

Description coming soon.

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