Thursday, 6 November 2008

An evening with Catherine Elwes


Elwes, a 70s video and installation artist, I admire her a lot because of her feminist attitude with avant-garde approach. Remarkable work such As Female into Male (1977), Menstruation 2 (1979), With Child (1983). I was so lucky to see her in school last night. You can see she’s really interesting in the first impression, but you also can tell she’s obviously terrified of her aging body from the way the talk. She talked about femininity within ideology provocatively. How women trying to prevail their imperfection by spending great amount of time getting ready til considerably “presentable”. Or standing in front of the mirror anxious about getting older and uglier. She said, “You getting closer to death, and you started thinking about death ironically.” Noticing her presentation skill is incredibly poetic, I was astonished by her literate usage of vocabulary. Nevertheless, she is a proper joker, both humorous and bitter - she commented, “When you are 54…you don’t think about sex… in fact sex is the last thing you want.” Goodness me, I was just completely blown away from the chair.


Besides, I am amused when she talked about scar, about people lie about their scars. She pointed out that when it came into the trauma, people tended to lie. In my personal opinion, this is an invisible way to cover my scars apart from I physically cover it by avoid showing it. “Brush history against the grain”, quoted by Walter Benjamin. I feel scar (especially burnt scar) is a historical movement, even a deterministic ritual. This is what when it suddenly happens to you, but you can’t escape from the fate that you got this inseparable make on your bodily skin.

“There is a sense in which creativity is experienced as an act of defiance, which risks making us ugly, angry and treacherous – speaking what has been kept hidden.” — Catherine Elwes.