Self-Dissolve : Reiteration is part of an ongoing project that exists at the intersections of the self, self-image and the poetics of absence. I performed my first iteration of this work in early 2018 where I publicly rejected patriarchal renderings of personhood in favour of embodying the emotive self through sandpapering 100 self-portrait photographs during a 2-hour live performance.
For Self-Dissolve : Reiteration I shifted my focus to my lived experience of having a non-normative gender identity in Hobart. Through live performance, photography, video and remnants I communicate the pain and frustration caused by colonial and patriarchal forces upon my identity, self-image and gender with particular focus on how these forces cause discomfort and disjuncture.
I wrestled large-scale self-portrait photographs and sandstone blocks for 2-hours during the opening night until the image on each print was destroyed. The remnants and video documentation of the performance remained in the space until the exhibition concluded.
This performance was an act of vulnerability where I self-inflicted agitation in order to transcend trauma and reclaim agency over myself and my gender identity.
Images 1-8 by Alexandra Hullah
The Quiet Strength is a video made in collaboration with Patrick, an inmate from Risdon Prison. It was part of The Pink Palace, an exhibition that was curated by Constance ARI and part of Dark Mofo Festival in 2018.
The idea for this work came from the conversations I had with Patrick over a 6 month period between December 2017 - June 2018. During this time we discovered that we were more like each other than not.
We found common ground through shared pain which stems from a personal ordeal of ongoing disjuncture between the self, ego and self-image. The Quiet Strength uses endurance performance and poetry to articulate this difficulty and explores how it is rendered through or onto the body over time.
In the performance I repetitively pick up and drop large chunks of sandstone onto several self-portrait photographs until exhaustion. Only at the end of the film are the damaged self-portraits revealed.
Although the project was about common ground, Patrick didn’t expect to find it therapeutic. The interview process to design the work became one of the most valuable parts of the whole experience because it created a space to build trust and intimacy in what’s usually a regimented place. Towards the end of the project Patrick said that visits with me became a reminder to the parts of the outside world that he missed.
Dark Mofo Festival, June 2018.
*Image 7 by Lucy Parakhina
Back to Back, Back to Black is a queer, intersectional response to the tension between artists, Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple surrounding the rights to the use of Vantablack; the darkest material on earth or “the blackest black”. Anish Kapoor is the only person who currently has access to this pigment.
Back to Back, Back to Black uses drag and the over performance of gender to critique Semple’s behaviour and highlights that his response is one typical of white male privilege which perpetuates cisgendered and heteronormative standards of ownership and control.
The performance included a drag king routine where I sang ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse repetitively for 2 hours. The routine also involved handing out roses to members of the audience. Through repetition, absurdity and overkill I seek to reveal the tokenism, extreme competitiveness and lack of empathy that is entrenched within white male culture. In addition, it communicates how drag and humour can be used as powerful tools to agitate the gender binary.
My aim was not for Kapoor to be completely vindicated but to bring attention to Semple’s petty and incessant attempts to prop himself up above Kapoor.
Contemporary Art Tasmania, April 2018.
*Images by Alexandra Hullah
Self-Dissolve is an exploration of the self and the poetics of absence through the platforms of live performance, photography, video and remnant and is an act of empowerment via a rejection of the patriarchal conceptions of the self in favour of the emotive self. This narrative of liberation of the self is based upon the fundamental paradox that it only succeeds when self image is dissolved.
I sandpaper 100 photographic self-portraits during a 2-hour live performance on the opening night. The remnants and video documentation of the performance remain in the space until the exhibition concludes.
The self-portrait photographs in Self-Dissolve play a crucial role as they act as metaphors for the socially constructed self that is disembodied and therefore dislocated from feeling. From childhood, we begin to accept the self through essentially visual, externalised images of the self, superseding and repressing the emotive self. Self-Dissolve is a counter ritual that critiques this dominant understanding in an attempt to contribute to current social discourse around subverting the patriarchal repression of the self within our society.
Sawtooth Gallery, March 2018.
*Images 1-10 by Alexandra Hullah
A shrine to my first love/ a shrine to self-love is a three-part ritualistic invocation of unrequited love using the elements of water, fire and air with the intention of fostering a liberation of the self.
The ritual began with tearing up unsent love letters written to my first love when I was 15 years old. I then used water to soften them into a pulp to make 14 sheets of handmade paper; one for each year I have kept these letters.
I turn to fire in the second part of the ritual, burning one piece of the handmade paper per day for the duration of the exhibition.
The final element of the ritual is the dispersal of the remnants via the natural circulation of air in the space.
While the transformation of the paper aims to be symbolic of the volatile, obsessive nature of adolescent emotion, the ritual enables me to gradually dislocate myself from and eventually transcend the memories of unrequited love. The final movements of this transformation are then left to the natural elements. This act of liberating the self becomes an act of empowerment through shifting the focus from my first love to my own well being, and actions that are within and beyond my control.
Visual Bulk, January 2018.
Everything and Nothing is a two-part provocation of struggle and self-identity via the platforms of video, performance, high-resolution scans and material remnant.
The first component is a durational video consisting of a pain and endurance performance where I complete a large scale abstract expressionist drawing over 7 days with 2B pencil and then obliterate the entire image with rubber erasers. The second component is the large scale high resolution scans of the lead pencil shavings and rubber dust from the performance. The performance is a self-inflicted agitation in an attempt to promote my own corporeal and emotional awareness while the scans investigate the materiality of the remnants and how objects transformed alongside my body.
My name is Dexter and I’m an alcoholic.
The full impact of my alcohol dependency hit me once I gave up drinking. It was an exasperating and traumatic experience. I had intense feelings of isolation and my creativity was abruptly stifled.
It felt like I was producing nothing because I could only manage scribbling on paper. This felt monotonous and worthless at first. However, it very quickly became vital to me. I used drawing as a way to busy myself – both mentally and physically. I would have caved in to my cravings without it.
I began to realise the full extent of the fact that I had spent my entire life constructing my identity surrounding this substance; I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about myself through sobriety. The performance articulates this notion and I used it as a way to agitate myself and confront this ordeal head on. In this way, the performance and Everything and Nothing as a whole became an unconventional type of rehabilitation. It offered me room to grapple with and eventually work through many of the complexities surrounding my relationship with alcohol. Although this was very difficult, it was transformative and I am still sober today.
While Everything and Nothing developed from confronting my addiction, the project came to reflect the arduous nature of navigating self-identity alongside all my private struggles. Through self-observation and reflection, this project made me realise that my practice is more than just a creative outlet. It is also a compulsion that offers me a safe space where I can explore and challenge all my discomforts.
University of Tasmania Graduate Exhibition, November 2017.
Recently I’ve been engaging in performances that highlight the pain, endurance and frustration of existing in this world as someone with a female body. My first concept for this performance was to showcase my strength and determination by wrestling an unrestrained boxing bag until exhaustion. I initially did this for two and a half hours in an attempt to disrupt society’s notions of gender and body. However, during the performance I began to realise that I was actually wrestling with myself, not with society; the video represents and articulates this battle. It’s unrelenting and at times excruciating. Through this performance I uncover my engrained misogyny. I found this confronting but it is not surprising since I live in a world that oppresses the feminine out of fear. Through observing myself I discover that I often use society’s ideas of masculinity as a mask to hide behind, rejecting vulnerability because of its association with femininity. The performance demonstrated this was unsustainable, and that vulnerability is fundamental to the human experience. Self-aware until I enforce a self-inflicted agitation, I transcend my own discomforts – further transforming my ideas of gender, body and identity. In tears and exhausted, I end realising there’s more power in acceptance, not resistance, of self.
*Runner Up, Tasmanian Portraiture Prize, 2017.
In this performance I tattoo ‘forever fluid’ on myself using the stick and poke technique. I am often pigeon holed by society for my appearance and I know these assumptions frequently come from a place of ignorance, however they are still hurtful. I claim fluidity through the painful process of the ritual and simultaneously highlight my determination to endure every discomfort perpetuated by society in order to remain true to my own identity.
The second component of my performance based project has been documenting the remnants of the act. I have always been curious about the power of objects and this year I have been curious about how objects within ritual transform alongside me. I’m particularly concerned with how the interaction (between my body and object) manifests power and meaning. It is because we have interacted together via enduring the ritual that the object now holds significance for me. This notion reminds me that times of struggle are loaded with potential, not only to make new connections but also to experience new ways of meaning.
Various expired 35mm photographs from Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New York State & Louisiana.
Straight out of the camera.
...concentrates on the intersection of memory and imagination to highlight the impact of time and place on the identity of self. The space in which it is presented prompts questions surrounding memory loss and how this subject is often misunderstood when connected to old age and ignored in relation to young age.
Site responsive work for This is Not Art festival
7.14 video & 35mm photographic series
Things Might Have Changed, curated by Constance ARI
September - October 2016
Elderly Citizens Centre, Newcastle, NSW
Images 3, 5 & 6 by Lucy Parakhina
Twenty-eight high resolution scanned images documenting the artist's menstrual cycle on their underwear.
"In allowing us to engage with the reality of her own cycle, Rosengrave's work critiques the sterilisation and phobia of something anyone who has a vagina experiences, in some way, on a daily basis. Sunny Side Up, illustrates a kind of beauty in what is hidden and shamed." - Grace Herbert
Island magazine, Issue 145, 2015.