Composition (with thanks to Gray, George, Sam and Jeff) 2016

Break Me Harder

RM Gallery, Auckland

A video work and performance about heartbreak.

Video and durational performance.
Photography: Julian Vares

The curatorial provocation got me thinking about break ups; about my own many endings and beginnings. My mind immediately shifted to sex. Of course. It’s my go to – my method of comfort, expression and oft-times bad habits.

We all know that sex is the driving force behind so much of life. We try and frame it as many things – pure, emotional, divine – but in reality it’s two (or more) sweaty bodies inserting their bits into miscellaneous orifices; sometimes gracefully, sometimes...not. And the reasons behind it are not usually pure and romantic and long awaited.

My own sexuality is ferocious, hungry, determined. Primordial, even. I’ve had sex for revenge, sex to prove things to myself, sex cos I was bored, sex cos I was furious, sex as grieving, sex cos it was easier than saying “no”. It’s not all honourable and meaningful. After a break up in particular, it seems like a survival instinct. The feel of skin on skin, clinging to a mutual animalism that reminds me that I’m still alive, embodied and – no point in denying it – desired.

My ongoing wish for desirability is a problematic one – one that I’m hyper aware of as a woman in a capitalist society that continuously reminds me of my value primarily as an object of desire, for consumption. Once the desire for me fades, what then? I recall my aunt talking about hitting menopause and how she felt as though men could smell the change in you and got dismissive, derisive even.

I see these works as drawings in space. The teasing out of a babble of ideas. An illustration of our attempts to fit our bodies (and, by extension ourselves) into impossible formations dictated by societal norms, ideals and moral codes. Trying to fit a messy embodied reality into a strict, cold formal arrangement.

Composition 1 & 2 are, in part, a nod to a Mae West quote: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone”. They are a visualisation of myself with multiple lovers, dispelling romantic notions and enacting a tragi-comic impossible task. Punctuated by shallow breaths, wheezes and out of kilter movements; the wobble of the pile and occasional involuntary movement highlights the vulnerability of the bodies.
The soundtrack the chaotic chorus of breathing from five bodies out of time. A carnal comedy.

I was thinking about demand versus supply and the ‘pressures of society’. The inherent dangers of being a woman in a society that maintains a dangerous double standard. The crushing weight of the memories of all those men. Men that loved me. Men that fucked me. Men that I adored. Men that fucked me over. Men that raped me. Men that I destroyed emotionally. Men that I dismissed after a one-night stand. Men that comforted me. Men that I could only communicate with on a carnal level. Men best left as friends. Men that are lovers in potentia. There are women, too. But this work is consciously hetero. Playing on that formality and binary bullshit that we all know so well.

So here’s a diptych, a sausage party and a celebration of getting over, under and in-between each other.