Avert Your Eyes
24″ x 144″
The book that doesn’t want to be opened
6” x 32” x 1/2”
Photographs by the artist
The human gaze is like a heavy weight forced upon you, an invasion of privacy. To look is to observe, perceive, analyze, and to judge. The awareness of others being conscious of you can be an intense experience, and the experience is becoming harder to avoid. The woodblock print Avert Your Eyes recreates the intense feeling of having many eyes upon you.
A book is an object that is meant to be opened and touched. When something is objectified, we assume that we have its consent to interact with it, that we are entitled to consume what it has to offer. In the piece The book that doesn’t want to be opened, I explore the idea of a book that does not function as a normal book and does not want to be looked at or touched. The front and back is covered with sandpaper and the text inside is abrasive and meant to repel the handler. By looking at the book, we are violating its wishes. This concept parallels the objectification of women in western society and women being perceived a certain way whether they like it or not.
I often find myself thinking about how I am perceived by others. My video work, Tape, was an expression of going against what I think society expects of me. I am taking my power back and controlling what others see through this performance. I feel as though being a woman is a performance itself and conforming to fit society’s standards is a particularly confining aspect of womanhood. Changing one’s appearance can simultaneously be an oppressive and a liberating act.