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.