In this series of self-portraits, I explore the private spaces and activities of my own home and body through the lens of a threatening abject. Referencing European ‘boudoir’-style nudes and allegorical painting, the works address the voyeurism typical of the genre through an unsettling visual language; the paintings begin as nudes and natures mortes, then lose their form in goopy, textured areas of abstraction, contrasting with highly articulated mess, rot and clutter. The work is centered conceptually around my personal narrative, where the home, as the primary site of my experiences with anxiety and depression, takes on a sinister role, full of rotten food, refuse and discarded objects. Meanwhile, the body reflects interior turmoil, displaying in paint and wax the itching, scratching, picking habits that tie to my feelings of panic or mania. Daily tasks ideologically to femininity - cooking and tidying, applying makeup and maintaining the appearance - take on a disturbing cast, reflective of the anxieties and obsessive thinking I’ve come to associate with them.
I’m interested in engendering a empathic confrontation/reaction in the viewer. The rotten food, the spoiled, dissolving, abstracting flesh, elicits expressions of revulsion, rejection, a bodily, sudden jarring in the gut. When the viewer looks at the (my) body, the nude, they are made to feel they own bodies. In the tension between alluring figuration and dissolving abstraction, I recall the tension between attraction and repulsion, a sickly curiosity mixed inextricably with disgust. Like an intrusive thought, or the panic attack that you’ve pushed back all week, it lives in the margins, a source of threat and intrigue. The abject recalls contamination by the rotting, the reminder of the corpse - that which can never be cast aside. This idea, of a portion of the self that threatens the self, closely parallels my experience with mental illness. The abject then functions both as a metaphor for these experiences, and a means of disrupting the tradition of the female nude.