Seeds to Ceilings
I've been thinking a lot about my work. And I've been doing a lot of very rough sketching, because there was something that was missing, and I didn't know what.
So as you can likely see, this same image kept coming to me. I wasn't sure what exactly I was even trying to draw, but obviously my mind was still travelling along the lines of seeds. I kept thinking that the celestial bodies were representations of 'seeds'.
But then I saw a post on Boots Riley's Instagram story:
And it finally hit me - it isn't about the bodies representing seeds. It isn't about using these figures to depict metaphors pertaining to oppressed people. It's about the act of breaking through; of enacting justice, or 'wild justice' as Francis Bacon called it. It's about breaking through their ground, our ceiling.
When I saw that picture for the first time, I laughed to myself because this was what I was drawing. The act of resistance, and what it looks like to both the oppressed and the oppressors. Full of hope and relief and victory... but also full of confusion and dread and shock. A coin with two sides.
So I went away to try and respond to not only this, but everything I've stumbled across recently. Everything I've been researching, every exhibition I've visited, every piece of artwork I liked, every scripture or quote I've read. I can feel it all playing a part. For example, I was speaking to my mother the other day about...something, and talk of 'heavens' came up. Within theological circles, there is this school of thought around Three Heavens.
The First Heaven is where we are - Earth and its vast skies; the Second Heaven is where the devil is - not hell, but his domain until he is sent there; and the Third Heaven, where God resides. In fact, the number three is so commonly seen within Abrahamic religions that I practically associate the number three with deity.
My point is, this has begun to contribute towards the way I want to edit my work.
Firstly, this was so weird to make.
I took the pictures in my bedroom, as I wasn't 100% comfortable with being topless at a studio where anyone could walk in. I kept my bonnet on accidentally, but I actually do like how it looks. As someone who is an advocate for wearing bonnets out in public, I'm surprised this wasn't a conscious decision, because the bonnet frames my face nicely - like the circles in stained-glass windows.
I sort of like the blankness of the eyes. I like the mask-like effect it gives the faces, as it reminds me of the masks used to promote Us (2019). However, this feels same-y. I feel like I did this in December, because the only difference between this draft and TRTO is the layering.
I decided to start moving away from making it 'uncanny', as I think my facial expressions (a mixture between blank and confrontational) and lack of eyes already does that. I took these pictures topless because I wanted it to feel minimal. It isn't about the subjects as much as what they will do in the frame - but I want there to be a feeling when people see my work. It's clearly a little weird, and comfortable in it's weirdness, but I want it to feel like it has substance. Because it does.
Anyway, I was meditating on masks and I decided to start doing another 'practice of intuition'. I really like line drawings. I printed out a tiny version of this draft and started drawing on it. And I like how it looks:
I mean, it isn't fabulous (I was using a thick gold pen on a tiny rectangle of paper). But it really enforces this concept of 'masks' right? And it shows development from TRTO as well. I absolutely want to maintain this moving forward, but with a bit more neatness (and obviously less taking the pen off the page).
More importantly, I want to cement the mythology of this project (now called 'Ceilings', hence the title) before I do anything else. I intend to do this through the 'zine'. I'm a little concerned that if I don't, it won't make sense once it's done. There is so much informing this, so I need to get it down coherently, and in one place.