• galeria das minas

JOANNA PALMER INTERVIEW

Atualizado: 28 de Abr de 2020


BY MARTA DE LA PARRA PRIETO

TRANSLATE BY VANESSA MÚRIAS


"The gloss, the red, the pout. With Palmer’s videos on lips, the famous line from Deliverance is the only thing that comes to mind: “You got a purty mouth." Palmer's work takes the perfect, pretty lips -the kind of lips men stare at while fantasizing about fellatio- and uses them as a template for humor, art history, and philosophy. Along with her stitched underwear and printed tees, Palmer's glossy lips reject the viewer's voyeuristic gaze. She's beaten the viewer to the punch, Palmer knows she is on display and manipulates that platform to spread her messages about philosophy and feminism. All eyes may be on her, but she's the one in control."

Furusho von Puttkammer, former Galeria das Minas´ intervieweé



Milk, 2018

GdM: When you set yourself within the art system, you identified as a visual artist, what does being a visual artist entail for you? What roles do text-based art and new media art play within in it?

JRP: : on reading this, I had a little flutter of anxiety that I am self limiting and self censoring by defining myself as a visual artist. However, I now understand that, for my own sanity, I must define myself somehow…Though my work often aims to stimulate all 5 senses, evidently, sight is the primary one.

My work with text harks back to my own obsessive fixation with language and communication. As a child, I was always fascinated with the biggest, most difficult to pronounce words. I was even toying with studying modern languages at university, but art school won. Text allows me to do one main thing – communicate. To me, all art is communicative in some sense. This can be excessively complex, or in my own text work, more straightforward and often playful text work. I circle back to it often as it allows me a direct journey into meaning.

New media art has a slightly less articulate journey for me. I have pretty much always worked with lens based media in my art career, but the progression into new media art felt very natural for me. The aesthetics of new media art are ones that give me that pit of your tummy excitement. The weighty nature of screens, the presence of fragments, articles, glitches, and the faint hum of the CRT tubes thrill me. With video art, it can be easy to be seduced by the seamlessness of the new technologies we have available. However, to me, particularly with the CRT screens I use, they act like a portion of the body. The viewer is much more aware of their physical presence and must move their own body to interact with them. Essentially, new media art allows me to force my viewer into interacting a certain way.





GdM: When we think of your work, the first image that comes to mind may be a film still from Milk, or Fruity Pops- Strawberry, or A Moment on the lips, a Lifetime on the Hips, or ORIFICE, or TELL ME A SECRET, or maybe one from SWEET NOTHINGS. Not only all these pieces have in common (your) garnet lips moving, but also their deep commitment to feminism. Firstly, we would love to hear more about those pieces. Also, we would very much like to learn more about how installation art, video art, and feminism work in your practice.

JRP: These pieces were born out of, again, my obsession with communication. I was playing around with still images of my mouth in a series, a bit like a flick book. The lipstick was incidental – it’s something I spend too much money on. I’d worked with video before but not in such a dedicated sense that these mouth orientated videos developed. Thus, this snowballed into lip reading experiments. I screened these videos both via social media, and with a live audience, instructing them to read my lips. The audience consistently responded with wonder and delight at the perfection of the garnet lips. as this was a focal point of engagement, I decided to capitalise off that. To create an image of feminine perfection is quite challenging – the mouth is young, wet, receiving, silent, and aroused. The viewer wants to indulge in the scopophilic pleasure of viewing this mouth. Making this image of myself felt initially quite embarrassing, but through study and exposure I began to realise I was embarrassed because I was made to feel ashamed of a feminine body that had the potential to feel and show pleasure. These mouths unashamedly indulge in their acts of expulsion, gratification, and speech.

I struggled with the notion of taking my own video art seriously. I knew (to my own shame) that I frequently disengage with video art in galleries etc if it doesn’t immediately draw me in, particularly if the video is projected. In my ever questioning way, I think it is to do with the work being tangible, and projected video being made of light, not tangible in the same sense. To refer back to your previous question regarding new media art, this is where I feel the presence of the physical screen makes the viewer engage in a different manner. Due to the bodily nature of my work, I feel these screens act as a sort of stand in for a body part, like a head or a face.


GdM: The feminist struggle is vital in your processes. Thus, your work is always a political practice, and appealing and confronting the views is a crucial strategy. Even though it feels like this questioning approach is always present in your artwork, it is taken literally on Sweet Nothings. In this case, you urged the audience to participate. Please, tell us a bit about this experience and the reasons behind it.

JRP: A polling booth. In my experience of voting, I have always voted in my former primary school, in the assembly hall. The section for voting is not particularly private for such an important act, anyone tall enough to peer over could have a look at your voting card. I wanted to force my audience to not only engage, but act upon it. It was a way for me to combine my fascination with language, text, power, and femininity, and quite literally take control of a representation of my body and how to behave towards it. The viewer is made to watch me, view me, and attempt to understand me. this experience was honestly pretty daunting for me. I had to learn to see a sort of split in self – myself as myself, and as my performative, on screen self. As you have noted, this questioning is ever present. Due to the lipreading context, I felt that I had to push myself beyond the bounds of my anxiety and put this work to a live audience. as I have previously said, art to me is a communicative strategy. To force my audience into engaging with my work and having to participate in the form of answering written questions, I wielded a power I felt I did not previously have. As my work is heavily influenced by gaze theories, I felt I could turn it on its head by being the consumable feminine image, recipient of the gaze, but holder of the power and the answers.





GdM: A Bildungsroman: Virtual Girlhood makes it clear, mass and social media are a frequent setting for your reflections on issues regarding womanhood and identity, accentuating sex rights and policies in the spotlight within those identities. Am I mistaken?