Thursday, May 22, 2008

jessie mann interview, part 4

part four of Seven Questions for Jessie Mann...

Subjectify: In "Self Possessed," I get the feeling that some of the roles you take on are role-models for you in the type of self conscious subject you want to be, but some of the characters are ones that you want to liberate or give some agency to. . .i.e. reach back and hand them the cable release for once… Are there other muses out there that you feel are kin to what you are doing with subjectivity? Who inspires you?

Jessie Mann: You are right that nearly all of the subjects (who were once or are actually real people) are people that I admire in some way—a few of the characters I ‘do’ made work themselves that I depend on theoretically with this work, the giants on whose shoulders I stand, such as Kahlo, Warhol, Beuys, and Sherman. And again, you are correct in that I very often want to go back and bring some information or awareness to the scene; to augment the collective understanding of a character—fictional or real. Often it’s too late to give it to the character themselves—but I can honor them and in a way, as you say, liberate them. I can use the freedom of speech, which I am granted as a postmodern character, to give their freestanding abstract a new agency.

There are so many inspiring characters out there which we have yet to do—and I am very excited about what’s on the list. Len and I have taken about 9 months off, so the list is overflowing right now, though on the bright side I have been able to grow my hair out. Recently, I have been interested in Jonathan Meese as a contemporary artist who is making part of his artistic practice the act of turning himself into a character. Also Francesca Woodman, whom I have shied away from, because of the tragedy in it—for a long time I only wanted to do characters that seemed self possessed as opposed to tragic—but I am coming to reconsider her work and whether or not it—the work itself, is tragic, or if it wasn’t more of a repository for her faith and hope in the power of the image and the life of the mirror self. We last did Dali and I got a real kick out of it, I have been wanting to do him for such a long time—he made such a fabulous character of himself—he was so outlandish—I really wanted to try that suit on, and there were so many fun gender issues to address.

Are there muses out there that I think took to their role as subject self-consciously?—tons. Are there muses out there that have examined the subjectivity unique to the perspective of their abstracted character and the ways in which that subjectivity challenges the normal understanding of self? Not that many. I think, to pick up the Woodman point, had she lived, she might have gotten to a point wherein she expressly autonomized the mirror self she was creating (Perhaps that was what she was attempting with the suicide?). Also, Sherman’s clown pictures I think very much reference the specific experience of mask wearing—there is a tragedy to them or at least something unsettling—as if she is pointing out there is something behind it all which we are still not seeing—the sadness under the painted smile. Though, to contrast, the mask is not speaking for itself of itself, just as her abstracted girls did not address the camera, but were captured in action. So, perhaps the prostheses works are the most in sync with this discussion, as they addressed directly the creation of a near separate self which the viewer then imbued with character and a certain autonomy.

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