My performance for Fine Arts went as follows.

I dressed in a Bambi paper mache mask, Fred Dagg singlet, jeans and farm boots.

For one hour I drank as many cans of Tui as I could through a straw attached to the mask.

I sat lazily in a seat watching my remix videos: Disney footage with Kanye West over the top.

The way the room was set up. Projector and speakers behind me. Projection on opposite wall.

My tutor wonders, uhh what?

Another beer please.

Almost there.

Aftermath.

Thanks to Splash and Riah for the photography. Great job considering it was such a dark space.

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All drawings involved in my Fine Arts project can now be found in the Fine Arts page at the top.

I’m in recovery mode after performing my final piece for Massey Fine Arts year 3.

Videos and pictures will follow in future posts but I thought I ought to write while still feeling the ill effects of my work. I performed a stereotypical version of New Zealand manhood. In one hour I consumed as much Tui beer as I could. I managed 8 full cans. If I was to boast about this you would be receiving a clear message as to how men in New Zealand often measure their strength.

I was wearing a paper mache Bambi head (adult Bambi, not baby Bambi). I sucked the beer through a straw protruding out of Bambi’s cute smiling snout.

I painted my body in a typical two tone Disney pattern. I was wearing a Fred Dagg/Wal Footrot black farming singlet, jeans and tramping boots.

I felt ridiculous throughout and ridiculous afterward. Being drunk at University at 1pm felt uncool. I’ve experienced many stories from my male friends about doing similar things, drunken stupid things. The desired response to these tales is a ‘good on ya mate’ and we all laugh. As men its cool to boast about these acts. It’s a sign of prestige. When I describe this project to my friends, making sure to explain how drunk I got at Art School in the middle of the day, I will probably get applause.

By dressing up as this clownish Kiwi Bambi hybrid, I intended to parody and overplay the bravado of New Zealand booze culture among young men. Well, parody is actually a weak word. I intended to ridicule it, by ridiculing myself, by doing it. By showing it to be a superficial, immature performance. A fake persona. Tui, because of its stupid and immature advertising, seemed the logical brew to consume.

How do I feel now? I feel I acted with honesty, stripping back the layers of why I feel drinking to huge excess is a narrow minded lack of self respect, and certainly not the only, singular or correct way New Zealand men can entertain themselves. I felt I exposed the sadness of such a desperate performance of manliness. I felt like it was worth taking a step in another direction, to assert a stance on New Zealand masculinity against the grain.

I feel tired, slow, sick and useless.

In one paper we were encouraged to write more freely about our artwork. I found that writing and making art go hand in hand. They shouldn’t be separate. I enjoy both equally.

This piece was an artist’s statement. These pieces are written by artists and usually accompany exhibitions in the form of a book. We spent most of our lessons in class discussing how to avoid writing dry, boring, pretentious rubbish. It was one of the best classes.

I hope this isn’t pretentious. When I began refining my research on masculinity, even coming to one or two polished concluding arguments of my own, I realized that I had learnt all this stuff before. I just hadn’t yet learnt the tools to understand it all. In Intermediate School (11, 12 and 13 years old) all the societal pressures on beauty, machismo, sexuality, what’s normal and what isn’t come barreling towards you like a derailed train. In a panic, relaying these new messages become the sole focus of many kids this age. It’s uncomfortable to accept that sexiness may mean a lot more to a 12 year old than a 30 year old.

Artist’s statement

But if we have Disney channel freakish android beautiful 20 somethings pretending to be 13, it’s no wonder. It’s Disney’s pursuit of perfection again, raising the benchmark for young beauty to an unachievable excellence. I mean, if sex appeal now matters for young people, then why pass the opportunity to make money off it? I mean, like, money, sex, beauty, the three things that constitute the value of human flesh in America. Why not teach the tweens, the most self conscious and most anxious humans, that this is true? Screw it, why not teach 8 year olds? I mean, that’s three more years of their parents money in our pockets. In our sexy, beautiful, deep pockets.

I would like to make a correction to the Artist’s statement. I do not wish to imply that looking at the ideal male body simply equates to homosexual experience. When I was 12 though, this logic was clear as day, and I felt gay when looking at the cool kid’s body.

I do not think Disney is an evil company, but it does share a lot in common with the villains it creates. An unquenchable lust for perfection, money, power and control over a worldly image of humanity. Sounds familiar.

Also, i don’t intend to insult America. But if it’s pop culture canon throws shit around, it can expect to be hit by some.

Some more of my hero, who is, indeed, American.

Laurie Anderson Smoke Rings

Laurie Anderson Mach 20

In my Fine Arts program we have to do a bit of writing. If I was to say this without typical ‘kiwi understatement,’ we have to do crap loads of writing. The thought of a 3000 word essay might send any other scholarly types into fits of laughter – ‘a pitiful amount of words! Ha ha ha!’. But that’s the problem. Existing critical theory and philosophy is as thick as treacle, damn hard to trek through. It takes me around 8000 words to get to a draft of 3000. The quote ‘I’m sorry for writing such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one’ is appropriate. It takes ages to process the mix of taffy philosophy, caramel critical theory and the fruits of your own thoughts, blending it into something pleasant to drink.

The first piece is critical theory, so it is rudely interrupted by citations quite often. I was required to do this.

DISNEY ESSAY

Strong, beautiful men are Princes

 

Bambi (left) and his stronger father  

Disney desired to become the ultimate visionary. His aim with Bambi was a stunningly accurate portrayal of nature. He built an animation superpower that still leads the movie industry on a straight and narrow path – to get rid of the screen. To immerse the viewer into a magic spell, a perfect fantasy world where everything is alright and anything that isn’t is quickly disposed of. Masculinity is just one identity that gets scooped up and moulded into an ideal perfection by Disney. It’s just one identity that is funneled unfairly into right and wrong, perfect and imperfect. Disney is essentially just a wealthy white American man with his own little world that doesn’t like 99.9% of races, sexualities of versions of gender on our world’s surface.

Soon these films will have detail that exceeds the capability of the human eye – and it still won’t be enough

Consider Disney’s pursuit of perfection again. It’s still a rhetoric that permeates the movie industry. There is a benchmark of  excellence that sits as the measuring rod for film. Thanks to our very own clever Weta studios, this benchmark keeps steadily rising, as each of King Kong’s hairs did in frame 94567. The thing is, no camera, CGI or 3D imagery will get rid of the fact that you are looking at a cinema wall. It’s not even a window – it’s a wall. The worst possible feedback from any movie goer ever is this – “it looked real.” If that is all it did, then we have a wall that cost $300 million to decorate for two hours.

So why spend any effort on the pursuit of realism? Why try to pretend that the screen is invisible? Watching a wall can be a riveting experience, whether it’s a movie, a painting, graffiti or even nice stonework. Embrace the wall and the imperfections in it. Put anything on there – there should be no hierarchy because it cost $1 million or 10 cents to fascinate us with a wall. Fascinate us with good stories, weird stories, clumsy or refined stories.

I may have tried too hard to make Atacama and Hector real. I did this by speaking their dialogue and writing it down spontaneously, then not editing it. Their words end up imperfect. In this way I tried to capture the kludgy nature of everyday conversation, as realistically as possible. Crap I just contradicted myself. I’m a hypocrite.

How realistic.

 

Some more of my hero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hedIexysvK4 – Laurie Anderson: From The Air

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VIqA3i2zQw – Laurie Anderson: O Superman

 

 

This project has made me think super hard for 14 weeks. I am pretty tired. This following little piece of writing is a wall text. The Massey Fine Arts tutors try and get us to submit our work looking as professional as possible. That means a lot of repainting white walls immaculately. I like the challenge of recreating a pro art gallery environment. This wall text is my final artists statement. It acts as both an introduction and conclusion to the entire project. A simplified, refined version of 14 weeks exploration.

Final wall text

Now for some other stuff. How about biology.

Atacama is referred to as a lizard and a worm. In actual fact he is neither, or both. His biology points out the futility of naming creatures under common attributes. Even on Earth, our language is far too small to cover the organic being. The words uttered by humans cannot catch up to a ball of life mutating, living and dying so fast. Atacama looks a bit like a lizard, but lived underground in the dark like a worm. He is almost blind. His sense of sight is an afterthought, much like our sense of smell. His nose is good, but his primary sense is touch. He feels frequencies, rumblings and vibrations through the plates on his skin.

Neither lizard nor worm, but neither not lizard or not worm. We don’t have the right words in our language.

As with Atacama’s gender. Neither male nor female, but neither not male or not female. He embodies a truly inherent sense of dread for a human, a total lack of distinctiveness, an unpolished ambiguity. So we just pick some words and go with them, to fulfill our need for certainty. He. Lizard. Alien. Atacama.

 

Bonus material: She is my hero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vzn1r-WaNM  – Laurie Anderson Bodies in Motion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbSGGEYWOPQ – Laurie Anderson Another Day in Amarica

 

 

 

And I’m back, some 14 years since my last post. I was cryogenically frozen. I was lost in the Congo. I stowed away in the Curiosity rover.

I don’t expect these excuses to work. The real excuse is the Lull. The Lull is a rather awful time where the most boring thing you can think of is drawing comics. I tried to finish Issue 6 in a two week break mid Uni semester. It was too much. I ODed on comic drawing, and haven’t recovered too well.

The Lull sucks but my rehab has been one of the most awesome Uni semesters ever. My hand in is in 7 days. Over that time I will post all of the work I’ve done whilst comics have withered. There are three pieces of writing, three videos, 16 drawings, and a performance work.

I explored themes of masculinity. I tackle the powerful and confusing bombardment of information about what being a ‘real’ man means. I looked into three major influences that scream this stuff out.

1.) American films – In particular the Disney animated pictures. Their animal films have always influenced my work.

2.) American music – I focused on a single, fascinating Kanye West album.

3.) New Zealand bloke culture.