Looking at a Naked Man (installation detail), 2020, photo credit Eddie Ing
The awkwardness and ambiguity of body language, the enigma of interiority, and the tension between a desire to connect and a discomfort in social situations, make the human figure an endlessly captivating subject for my sculpture, video, and installations. My work is rooted in figuration as a way to try to understand and connect with others, and is informed by contemporary art criticism and social theory about the gaze as a way to call out dynamics and politics that complicate the act of looking. Broadly speaking, addressing the gaze allows me to reflect on my relationships to others and consider what those dynamics can reveal about how we understand ourselves and others.
My site-sensitive, immersive installations engage viewers as both voyeur and subject; it is common for mirrors, video feeds, or openings cut through walls to implicate viewers into the work in a visually explicit way, conflating the roles of actor and audience to disrupt the illusion of an omnipotent one-sided gaze and highlight the fact that we (humans) move through the world as both subject and object.
My most recent installations, Looking at a Naked Man (2020) and She Looks (2020), explore the female gaze on the male body as a way to empower and understand this underrepresented perspective. These works include video made during multiple sessions with one of my male models as I directed him to perform a range of activities that convey vulnerability with strength and beauty with awkwardness, sometimes overlaid with references to classical art. These videos flip tropes common to the male gaze, while presenting a perspective that moves beyond a simple reversal of the objectifying male gaze, conveying a mixture of desire, curiosity, and empathy. The presentation of these videos is an integral element of the installation. With strategies such as placing the videos within small boxes that require people to lean-in to view, or integrating mirrors into a display composition, viewing these videos engages the viewer’s own body and creates a hyper-awareness of the act of looking.