Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Only Good Woman is A Dead Woman - Recoding Death of Fantasy and Beauty

On Friday 13th Jan, 2012 Nicola will perform two rituals for the empowerment of women - recoding death of fantasy and beauty. Features - projections, performance, install of red, yellow, blue hand and face sensor stickers, dangdut, hair whipping.
(text continues after video...)

“The Only Good Woman Is A Dead Woman” is a quote from Slavoj Zizek’s A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema he stipulates in cinema (a medium that now guides our fantasies) the death of the female (fantasy) keeps the male libidinal economy going onward and upward. I want to steal the power of death of fantasy from men and give it back to women. There are hands and face sillhouettes around the room where audience can place their hands or face, I ask them to confide in me, just by placing their thoughts into the ground or the glass – thoughts of a life or death of a fantasy. I do this by using projections and music. I will transform cinema into a sexy musical dominion where male and female fantasies live forever. Look at the footage, live the dangdut. In one of the shopfront windows I write all my ‘shut down’ lines on to dry rice paper over the projection. I project the aesthetic themes of Life, Death, Fantasy > Light, Dark, Fire and then take the dry rice paper circles, wet them stick them over my body. All of this aurally supported by a mix of Kylie Minogue's "Confide in Me" with Dangdut and Tecno Brega music. Re: Kylie, she took us the right way from hollywood (well Neighbours to being a sexy dancer, no fucker is gonna kill her now or make her move to Brisbane so Scott and the rest of the Neighbours can continue their shit!!!)

Then towards beauty and the water, that transformed the rice paper circles I add glitter, dip my hair in it and invite the audience to do the same as we  "Whip my hair back and forth." Men can’t kill a woman’s fantasies, they live on and are transferred.

I present the sexual fantasy of dangdut, a provocative dance slightly incongruous to the region's Islamic values, but one which is trance like, so never dies.. we get in a hair whipping trance..
According to The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille, (Western culture’s) cultural code for beauty is ‘men’s salvation’ – do we really work hard to impress each other with our beauty to prove our ability to save men? There is all this woman on woman anger, that extends to racial ie. white women v asian women – white women think men want asian women more and asian women think men want white women more. BUT LADY GAGA IS BEAUTIFUL AND DOESN’T SAVE MEN. In the pursuit of alien beauty, we find an alternative, feasting from the glitter I laid out earlier on in the night, everyone has glitter on our hands and faces and projected are the phrases “I only wear free trade and recycled clothing,”  “My make up is not tested on animals,” and "Aliens can overthrow the state" – we transform to beautiful caring aliens.

Window and Floor Install Plans:

Below are some video stills from projection and performance. Performance stills by KT Spit:

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Artist Review: Constraints on Art Making "12 Ways to Masturbate with a Melodica"

I was interviewed by Cristina Sk for this article in Hong Kong Arts Magazine, Pipeline (2012) "Other Wicked Catalysts" Jan/Feb 2012, p36.

An online issue is available here --- Read the editorial then skip to p36 to read what I have to say.

From Editorial, Cristina Sanchez Kozyreva "Asthma and Other Wicked Catalysts"
"Australian performance artist, Nicola Morton (p.36) writes about her performance "12 Ways to Masturbate with a Melodica" where she sublimates the culturally variable perceptions and questionings she receives about her origins and her womanhood; a performative experience that at the same time holds universal ideological value, and is individualistically liberating."

Here is my text...

I am half Chinese-Malay, half Australian and doing a residency in Indonesia. But in Indonesia, I am white. I am a buleh, a western woman. One of my biggest impressions in Indonesia is how they view Western women. We are seen to be so sexually free (with positive and negative attributions). When I was asked to do a performance in the Pendopo Mangkubumen, Universitas Widya Mataram, Yogyakarta. I of course said yes, because it is a beautiful old pavillion and was part of the Kraton dynasty in Yogyakarta. I thought that a 'veiled' ie. non-literal, non-translated performance about sexual identity within an Islamic Institution would be symbolic of how my sexual identity is judged here. I also wanted to focus on the transformative element of taking an autonomous-self-ego ritual and presenting/exposing its broader symbols in the collective unconscious, for in the end, I want to break down the borders and create mutual understanding among us all. In a Western society because of my Asian heritage I am sexualised as 'smart' and 'indie' - the symbol I chose for this is the Melodica (Pianica) and thus Simbi and I chose to expose 12 concepts of masturbation along the 12 notes of the western musical scale - fantasy, paint, thumbs, flowers, chains, asphyxiation, stars, humping, scissoring, water, pressure, knife. The 12 melodicas were hand decorated to each of these themes, and given away to the crowd at the end of the performance.

I am not an overt sexual performer, ie i have never performed naked, other works of mine have cynically commented on sexuality as a lure/desire. this maybe explains my sudden and dramatic disdain at suddenly being seen as a 'slut.' I was not concerned about being seen as a slut during the performance as i consider performance to be transformative. I wanted to open thoughts. The reaction to performance was good and respectful, mostly because we gave away the 12 melodicas. But my biggest impression was on children, we had children come up during the performance and play with the paper stars and throw flowers at us. Plus they were the ones who got melodicas. There‘s hope for change. The children playing along supports the idea of collective veiled sexuality where there are no judgements made and they weren't shouting, “hello buleh“

The main aim of the piece was to expose we all have the same fantasies rooted in our collective unconscious. And even though I am white, I can put masturbation under this conceptual art ‘veil‘ and make it playful. Plus it illustrates that sexual fantasy is not just a western prerogative/consumer product but something more rooted in the earth and in the spaces between our consciousnesses and of course the human‘s playful nature.