Right now, I am looking into the room. Its a high ceilinged square, almost a cube, with an entire wall of windows overlooking a leafy courtyard. I think on first glance It appears that I am reflecting the light coming in from the window on my left, but my lightest parts are in fact on my right side; facing into the room. As I am non-human/animal, I’m looking only in the sense that Im facing outwards, but I understand my primary function is to be looked at. In this instance I am self aware, so I understand myself to be a wood support, with linen stretched around, painted with white gesso, wrapped in plastic, transported, sold, painted over a period of a few weeks in short irregular bursts, put into various states of storage and then hung up on this wall.
Which way was I looking as I was being painted? In fact, I find the assumption that the way I view myself would be a direct result the brief period in which I was being painted, a very human centric one, although I admit it has changed me. The thing about being a painting is that you’re kind of in flux, it wouldn’t make sense for me to place too much importance on how the paint is now, thats up for change. I’m a slow burner, I’ve got all the time in the world, i’m in no rush to make definitive statements or use capital letters and full stops.
Am I conscious of my own appearance? I heard recently that women frequently experience their physical form as if they are an onlooker, and can enact this several times an hour, sometimes more frequently and its particularly common during sex. It’s to do with how many images of other women’s bodies they see everyday. Im aware of when I look good. I think I look best when the light comes in huge studio windows on my left in the mornings – so in this sense – I think i’m also looking inwards. Or I have to same ability to dissociate from my form. I also have a similar confusion due to proliferation of imagery, and I suppose it comes down to identity politics and how I want to define myself – I don’t want to talk for all paintings so I’m trying to tell you about myself through my own eyes. I guess I have a conflicted relationship with looking and the gaze, its so caught up with my identity that its difficult to know who I am without it.
If someone is looking at me, Ill look back at them, because I take myself seriously and I think they will get more out of our encounter if we both try.