Tracing the concept of the vanitas as its use and meaning change through history — originally referring the futility of earthly presence and possessions and acting as a reminder of our own mortality, as well as the current use of the word vanity, which appears transformed from vice to virtue — my work is increasingly informed by questions of the passage of time and the fluidity of appearance.
Teresita was created during a workshop at the Salzburg Summer Academy. This piece is was made in response to a text by an author who was writing about a piece of art. Both author and artwork were unknown to me until the completion of the piece. Prompted to create a visual response to this text, I interpreted the author’s words as if they were a set of instructions, applying each descriptive phrase onto my own body. I was initially drawn to the text for its heavily descriptive and overly grandiose language, which spoke of a female figure akin to Mona Lisa, ambiguous, mercurial, sensual, desperate. The author’s tone seemed to revere, flatter, and perhaps even fear the figure. As I make myself up as Teresita, my voice also reads the text aloud. Marking and underlining as I go, my tone becomes at times critical and confused, and at others unconvinced and amused. Within the context of The Image 101, Teresita questions the generally accepted authority within the arts of the text to speak about the image, in which a text is written for or applied to an image, thereby giving the image weight or validity. The video is displayed on a monitor under my original copy of the text (with wrinkles, fingerprints and all), and an excerpt from Gottfried Boehm’s “What is an image”, selected by curator Tina Teufel.
Many thanks to Laura Cassidy Rogers for allowing me to use her text.