Trigger warning: complex everyday life themes….
Disaster struck last night! Well, disasters look different from our own viewpoint. My newly refurbished recliner broke. The reclining mechanism was never the same after the boys did the refurb, and now the seat support has snapped. I’m now back in a deckchair, and my digital life is as painful as my real one once again. Everyday Pain is very pleased with himself as I’m typing this with one finger on my phone, lying propped with pillows on the bed! Sounds lovely right? No, everything is in twisted agony; I think I wrenched my back when the chair snapped.
What has this furniture furore have to do with the everyday… well obviously it has everything to do with it as I spend more of my time in that old recliner than I do anywhere else and after its latest mods it meant I could write, draw and eat in real comfort. I’d even had a snooze in it! I cried buckets last night as I knew that I was now back to a life of pain until and Gawd forbid ‘if’ it can be fixed.
On a positive note, the new accessible loo and shower are fitted and working… the bathroom is not finished yet, and we’ve lost the builders until the end of next week… does that affect the ‘Everyday Pain’? Yes, once again, it has a massive effect as my ‘flight envelope’ gets smaller, as my physical challenges get worse, small and insignificant to others; these b*ggerations (or benefits in the case of the bathroom) have a substantial physical and mental impact. Just the thought of days, weeks of additional pain. Having to re-jig the project as I couldn’t animate sitting in a traditional chair as that would be horrendous on my neck, back and abdomen. The result would be my insides sticking together, making for an excruciating and potentially life-threatening bowel blockage. I know I’ve spent a vast amount of time doing these animation drawings, and I also know that I couldn’t do that sitting up; it would be simply impossible. I honestly had a visit from the black suitcase/tower last night and thought a ‘long swim’ might be in order… a bit drastic, I know. If you have been in chronic Everyday Pain, you have these stupid final solution thoughts, which seem genuinely plausible and comforting at the time. In typical Marine fashion, my husband did a FFS moment, ‘are you really going to top yourself over a f*cking chair? Seriously, what would I do without you, and the cats would miss you, especially Momo!’
I do love my husband; he has a way with words.
Talking of my husband, I’m reminded of Martha Rosler’s kitchen semiotics, my class pick for research this week. I loved the visuals on this film since I first saw it in Harry’s Postmodernism class; I didn’t research it much then, just took a still of the knife action and the tremendous XYZ at the end. I’d given Rosler a quick look but had preferred Cindy Sherman’s process and drifted away from seeing Rosler… my loss… there’s a lot to see and think about here.
I’d wholly misunderstood Rosler’s argument. I thought she didn’t like cooking! I did think there was the seventies feminist agenda of ‘get out of the kitchen. I thought I understood as I witnessed that era’s overt sexism and oppression as a child. However, I also had to deal with my mother’s reaction to that sexism as she simply refused to cook! This meant my dad would’ chef up’ as he called it, which involved copious amounts of lard and, strangely, cans of Homepride cook-in sauces. He used every conceivable pan, utensil and work surface in the kitchen that I would have to clean up. Or, more sensibly, I would get up early before school to prepare something and put it in the slow cooker or get the ingredients prepped to put in the pressure cooker when I got home from school… Nidhi’s choice of imaginary self-identification kitchen implement during the seminar…
Once home, I realised that my initial reaction to Rosler’s work was likely my exasperation and latent anger towards my mother.
With research, I see Rosler’s work was far more nuanced; even the title Semiotics of the Kitchen reflected that.
- the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
As a child dealing with my own issues of sexism and its violent manifestation or as an adult dealing with matriarchal disconnection, I could never hope to understand the subtle signpost of Rosler’s work. That language must be lived or, at the very least, explained by someone living it at the time.
Rosler says, “An anti-Julia Child replaces the domesticated ‘meaning’ of tools with a lexicon of rage and frustration.”
And there within that sentence explains both Rosler’s work and gives a better understanding of my Mum. They were not simply rebelling or protesting about the drudgery of domestic servitude but more the glorification and indoctrination by society and media figures like Julia Child, Fanny Craddock, Delia Smith and even today Nigella Lawson et al. Homely, Dominatrix, Vicar’s Wife or MILF your fantasy pick of perfection of domestic bliss that a woman had to subscribe to, i.e. a male fantasy
If you’ve never seen Fanny in Action, here she is in the same year as Rosler’s piece 1975
Rosler revisited her earlier work with the 2011 film Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition
In 2003, for A Short History of Performance, Part II, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Rosler announced an open call for a live restaging of her seminal 1975 video piece Semiotics of the Kitchen. Twenty-six women participated in a rotating performance of Rosler’s script at the Whitechapel. On a set stocked with culinary utensils, the participants were taped and “broadcast” on television monitors throughout the gallery via live feed. Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition documents the preliminary rehearsals with Rosler and the public event, the “audition.”
Where does my ex-bootneck, ex-MMA fighter, ex-Pro Wrestler husband come into this domesticated horror story? Well, since the op, he has undertaken the role of domestic goddess… not always successfully, it has to be said. The house is a deteriorating mess which has to have the odd intervention at times… think Marines are trained to sleep in muddy puddles; they make their beds but never sleep in them, preferring to sleep on the floor so as not to mess them up for inspections! So while looking at Rosler’s alphabet, I wondered what a Marine would do with those kitchen implements if they weren’t to be used as originally intended…I often secretly observe my husband walking around the kitchen during food prep doing simulated knife play. Unconsciously re-enacting the terrible sequence of moves to despatch the enemy while he whistles a happy tune that he is currently listening to through his ear pods… a truly chilling scene… there’s a film somewhere in all that…
I told my husband that as he was the visual inspiration for the Wrestling with Everyday Pain figure and we were going to explore the semiotics of a kitchen takeover, he was quickly becoming my muse; he smiled and said I wondered when you’d realise that!
My second pick for research was A Taste of Honey
1961 directed by Tony Richardson. It might seem an odd pick, but as I’d not seen it, I thought it was an excellent counterpoint to Rosler’s work that I might try harder to understand this one the first time. That might be highly naïve on my part, which is a perfect match for Rita Tushingham’s character Jo. This film has all the scandalous themes of its day, mixed-race relationships, unmarried teenage mothers, homosexual (illegal until 1967) friend in need of a beard, mixed aged relationships, all topped with a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. A litany of issues was controversial and, according to reviews at the time, unrealistic! The writer, a teenager herself at the time, Shelagh Delaney, thought they were relevant and authentic, and I believe she was right. I was born in 1964 to an unmarried mother. She had left school at 14 to work in the new NHS as a wage clerk. She had shared a flat with a homosexual man; had a daughter out of wedlock with an Asian medical student. The nursing home nunnery staff cruelly treated her as a fallen woman, locking her in a room for three days with no food and only a jug of water as she laboured, telling her that it was God’s punishment; the baby died. She then had me with a married man who was 16 years older than her. The only thing that wasn’t accurate in the film was that no one tried to take the baby off Jo or put her up in front of the moral virtue committee and question her… that happened to my Mum. So the second time around, she changed her name by deed-poll, taking my married father’s name, and moved into a flat that her sister paid for. It had black mould; the only running water was down the walls… she told her neighbours and work colleagues that her husband worked away… the ‘everyday’ reality of a 27-year-old working woman in the early 1960s, as Jo says in the film, ‘we don’t ask for life we have it thrust upon us.’
In the end, my mother had a complex but successful life and was very happy at times in contrast to some incredibly awful times; she used to say, ‘basically life is sh*t; it’s important to enjoy the good bits.’ That is very true; I think she did.
My Wrestling with Everyday Pain project reveals some of those more challenging times, especially private messages. When everyday pain arrives in people’s lives, it is a shock to many, especially those that have had a ‘nice’ life. The truth is, at some stage, we will all have to face some type of everyday pain, as that is the nature of life, and that, by its very definition, is why life is so extraordinary, so fragile and most beautiful. To fend off the maudlin and challenging aspects, the best way to live is that of the Royal Marine’s cheerfulness in the face of adversity, which is probably very handy if you are a commando.
They also have other tips too, like, be friendly but always check the exits and have a plan to kill every MF in the room… soooo a bit alarming that one…
My cheerfulness lives very peacefully within my three-year-old self; my mother used to call me an obstreperous child
Definition of obstreperous
: stubbornly resistant to control: UNRULY obstreperous behaviour an obstreperous child
Why the high squeaky voice? That’s the voice of the three-year-old me… does it work?… maybe not; I still ‘do’ the voice when I make the recordings but then pitch them up; perhaps I should just do the voice?
After talking with Miranda in this week’s tutorial, the voice is a complex interplay that only I understand and doesn’t necessarily add anything to the work maybe even distract from it. I made the wake-up video without sound but just didn’t like it, so I went for foley sounds instead….
I think it may be helpful to put these notes up before the tutorial; as I kept saying, you will see in this week’s notes… again, surprising how fast things move… I could update them for Friday?
Interestingly I didn’t know the actual definition of obstreperous until last week. I understood it at a visceral level, I embodied and owned it, but now I know what she meant; it makes me smile even more….
With the social media responses to the ‘Wrestling with Everyday Pain,’ I’m asking the ghastliest questions, and I was hoping humour would make people feel at ease with these formidable requests, and I think it mostly has. I’m not concerned with the if or how much engagement I get; I’m just surprised and honoured that people do. I was surprised that no one wanted to talk about drinking as self-medication for everyday pain because I know that happens. Some respondents replied to this when talking about Sister Morphine but not directly on the drinking post… too direct, I suspect.
My initial idea was to garner responses in order to make the second part of the film. Also, I wanted to expand my art practice of social engagement, which I started with Borth Slice. I want to put the responses into a Dada black bag or maybe ‘black suitcase’ and use them in a live performance. As Miranda says, a project develops, and I’m only a few drawings away from finishing Pat’s story… the chair is now p*ssing me off even more….(my mood changing from despair to stroppy anger). Who knows where this new and unforeseen development will take me?
The answer to the question of when to stop posting was about, have I got enough responses to do the work? Do I really need more? Or should I keep posting and incorporate these posts within my ongoing artistic practice? Maybe I should keep going, but only when my chair is fixed! I have a lot of responses now and its fascinating how that relationship and interplay of posts to poster back to respondent plays out.
( I loved the twig man) @twigstaints https://www.chriskenny.co.uk and that gentle repetition of social media practice with informative anecdotes is different to the more acerbic Bedwyr Williams. As I feel that tattooing is part of my artistic practice as a self styled ‘Giver of Pain’ I would love to tattoo Bedwyr and offer to regularly …he never responds … awwww that would be a great session can you imagine him on the couch!!! The needle tells all..
Finally is it possible to dig up the black suitcase mmm that fellow is buried deep, and is certainly a metaphor for my darkest thoughts, fears and my most cruel experiences, I bury that sh*T way deep down with a ton of soil on it… however, maybe in true Damian Hurst style I will dig it up when I make my first million in art sales… you maybe waiting a while…till then I and my muse are going to return the Marina Abramović drinking water to the sea…
This went well and I worked on both my sound and vision transitions and addition of sound design heat beats in the cuts and transitions within the editing. I also colour graded each clip for exposure, contract, saturation, warmth and shadow. All new skills for me as was saving video in an MP4 format which I will need if I send the final film to the film competition in Italy.
I took the water from the seminar for the first pour into the sea, but the story is that the water keeps return into the cup, it did of course with sea water!
Miranda and I talked in the tutorial about a story board for the final film and of course the drawings are the story board but with extra manipulated drawings within it. So the Procreate folder has 84 drawings in at the moment but each drawing may have been manipulated and saved many times so the Pat/Hope film is one drawing but manipulated over 30 times. I’ll figure out a way to put together an abridged version for next week.
Jason fixed the chair… and Hope was Restored
Ah so glad Jason fixed the chair!!! Gosh lots going on this post, ups and downs of pain and living and husbands and mothers..wow what a story and how strangely similar to Jo and the Taste of Honey, a brilliant film way ahead of its time. SO the case is firmly buried but it could appear in the animations, animations are the wonderful world of the make believe. Yes I like the Foley sounds, for me that works well, better, because as you say although the 3 year old voice has very particular references for you it is a little confusing for those not in the know, the foley sounds take you straight into the imagery, they are direct and succinct.