Meditations 2: On self love, body and shame.

Art, Bangladesh, community, Dhaka, Exhibition, Love, Photography, Portraits, Portraiture, Reflections, Self Portrait, Thoughts

Continuing on my thread of meditations on body, love, and beyond. It dawns on me the need to unravel my mind a bit, too. The image above helps me to ground some ideas about the mythical, shifting nature of my body, the elements that comprise of my race, and the lived and inherited shame. I may come back to revise some of this, it seems a bit clunky still, also.

My identity, one that intersects across a Male, Queer, British Bangla diaspora, of Muslim heritage, but now relatively agnostic / atheist.. is one that envelopes the feeling of being a minority, but also a majority in some junctions of my identity when I am in Bangladesh – and partially of the male, Bengali patriarchy. It is complex, as drifting from space to space, can and does mean so many different things, especially in how the body is interpreted. What is important to acknowledge though, in the not being fully one identity, my identity of fragments, also make me who I am.

A slight diversion; Shame, is about that societal, collective shame that I was raised in, that shame which exists to belittle or deny our right to be. In this instance, shame is a lingering, passive aggressor, it creeps on me. I dare not share for shame, for what that shame means to me, is not important – what it is, is a collective angst towards conforming to societal norms. What other people think accordingly has been a mantra I’v grown up around, and have sometimes vehemently rejected. Yet, my protest or rejection to deny shame its grip on my mind and body, on my ability to love and be loved is not so violent. It erupts, in fragments, and especially in conversations. So, I reflect on this, in other readings, in my art, in references to concepts of self-care, in conversations with friends, in understanding trauma(s) that I have experienced over time, finding coping mechanisms that work for me. But also, sharing. In the leaving of religion, there is shame. In the declaration of sexuality, there is shame. In the calling out of abuse, naming the abuser, there is shame. Shame envelopes entire beings, it can rip at the core of our self in ways that is impossible to see, witness, or bare.

It is this, that forces me to often come back to self portraits, in this instance, in turning the camera on my self, I am at once being narcissistic, and at the other, allowing myself to be vulnerable, to be objectified, which becomes a safe space, but also to be potentially fetishised. In the various sub-cultures that I occupy, one straddled across queer, diaspora landscapes, of the UK, of hints of BDSM, and beyond. Of course, it seems I am also unable to call shame out, to destroy its structural grip on my self. So I resort to this making of art and an attempt to write about it as a reflection instead on self-love. IF I am to put my previous meditation on queer love, namely; the pursuit, the anticipation and the emancipation of self-love. What would it mean? Straddled with the phenomena of how I articulate my self to the outside world, physically, visibly. Does this being need to pursue to self love? It comes pre-loaded with shame. The pursuit is one am uncomfortable with. Why? because it means acknowledging and loving parts of the self that are filled with fault, that carry shame. Those experiences have specific traumatic blots on the mind. The pursuit of self love is riddled with challenges. Yet, there IS a pursuit. This somehow is also comforting. That am willing to pursue self love, perhaps at a cost? Perhaps meekishly at first, unsure about the approach. Yet, it is there.

In critiquing my self, in best a form I can, through art, through reflexive writing, I conjure up fantasies of my self, this miraculous, wonderful and somewhat Bangladeshi vessel that had wants and desires that cannot be fully expressed. Until they are. This seems always momentary. The forgetting of, rather than moving on from, shame. The pursuit of clarity, of clarifying how self love sits, within the wider acknowledgements of different loves.

The shame, which has seemed relatively permanent, has required constant unworking. And in the past few years of pushing my limits in exploring, willingly challenging those pillars that were steadfastly grounded as shame. Through arguments and confrontations with my self, with others, in re-presentations and conversations, here I am. Not so vulnerable, yet, the self love, the pursuit of it, is quite real. There is a fear to self love too. I can anecdotally reflect back to childhood. Childhood, where we first learn to do all the things we do for the rest of our lives. In this childhood, shame is also a pillar. In watching, seeing, hearing and not understanding then, what this idea of shame was, embedded deep into a subconsciousness that can turn to self-hate in the future, even in the present, and beyond. How to anticipate self-love? It seems like an elastic band at times, pushing it to its limit, and just like that, am snapped back to a different point of shame.

In anticipation of self-love, I reflect on the various moments I have taken to journal, offline, to read, to draw, and explore through my thoughts. The most privilege of things, is time, to be able to reflect. The time it has taken to undo the deep rooted concepts of shame. The time it will take to continue undoing. In liberating my self, especially the body, through self-love, in anticipating it as a truth to my self, there is something being nurtured. This enamoured emancipation towards self love can occur, in fleeting moments.

The body, becomes something to learn from, it teaches me what my mind cannot, what literature, and theory cannot. It teaches me, that what I see in the mirror, is real. The camera, however can play tricks, I can play with lighting, I distort the reality. I come with a tainted identity it seems. This taint, impacts the anticipation of self-love.

So rather, this idea of acknowledgement of the lived experience, this current time, space and place creates a certain environment for me to reflect. This moment, affords me to critique a past body that I have also lived in. The body becomes an important part of the path to self-love for me, because it is the only body that I live with. It was, and is interesting to reflect on where I have come to, so far. So is it about forgiveness also? Do I need to think about how to treat past experiences better? There is no escaping some of them, they will regurgitate in dreams and reflections over time, and again.

To conclude then, this encapsulates, for me, a queering of self love too, of revealing me to myself, my ability to think about and beyond this. In thinking about the body, further, deeper, politicised somewhat now, because of its queerness and it sits there, unknown. Its ability to explore and push fetishes, boundaries and pursue ideas that I maybe uncomfortable with. This self love, of this body, is critical too. I dont occupy one particular community, nor do I feel like I belong to one. What I do have, is friends and family that I care about, and that I hope care about me. Here I am, writing, exploring, and attempting make sense of a journey towards self love. It has helped, to create mechanisms to cope, when that love is not offered. OR yet to be offered. Its a strange feeling, awaiting to acknowledge love for your self. Yet, it is this balancing, this deliberate play of mind and body that flickers between real and dream.

Meditations (1): On Queer love.

Bangladesh, Life, Love, Thoughts

I’d just had a very brief exchange of texts with a friend, on our joint appreciation of Italo Calvino’s The Invisible City. And just like that, I’d felt the desire to reflect and meditate on love. Some more context needed perhaps? *We are amidst the most important historical phenomena to exist in our lifetime so far – the COVID19 Pandemic, so reflecting on an aspect of love, not all of love, by any means – but also, no more context than that.

I’ve come back and forth on this, perhaps in the blog a few times too. I’d have to scroll to find them -not now but I’ll reference them sometime. Today, it still dawns on me how difficult it is to put into words this phenomena, this thing called love. My approach has often been quite arbitrary, taking elements of my readings in the past that explored the concept through more philosophical lens. And just my experiences, as I’ve journaled, reflected and had many diverse conversations about. In falling in love, in being in love, in falling out of love, in the love that seems to be changing. In its multiple facets, it is embedded in darkness and its lightness. In the pursuit of love, in the anticipation of love, in the emancipation and being in love, that love conjures up.

In the pursuit of love, one gets lost, I get lost, its frenetic, its charged, its every last moment, every possible breath, the pursuit to hear those words being uttered, or to express them. The fear and the adrenaline is intoxicated. In the pursuit of that queer love, that love that doesn’t fix itself in that happily ever after. That pursuit that happens over a few hours, over a few days, over months. It lingers though, the feelings, the meaning, and as I type here on the blog – up pings a message on my screen ‘ I love you’. That made me smile. HE likes it when I smile.

Yet, the pursuit, its purpose, entirely, seems to fixate on to something to chase. Chasing love. The question is not, is there more love elsewhere? but how does one differentiate that love, with this love, how does one, pursue that other love? That love thats not defined in that box of a hetero/homo, mono/poly? It’s fucking scary sometimes, that pursuit. What does it mean to expressly pursue it? In conversations about relationships, love, often is a neglected component. I’ve struggled with that, I’ve fixated on that neglect. I’ve grown up in and around relationships that have required huge sacrifices, of pain, abuse – physical, emotional, mental, and neglect, or perhaps negation of love and of tolerance. This endured tolerance as a symbol of love. I’m overly curious about that. How does one create love-relationships? What have I observed, even in my own pursuit for love, when do I stop? When do I know? This is perhaps how I am exploring a love that is queer. This defining, refining the meaning of love that is queer, this unstructured free love, this queer love that is relentlessly unwilling to be boxed.

And yet, in the anticipation of love, in receiving love, that has been much much harder to accept. It continues to be so. Those of us, raised in the ashes of trauma, in experiences beyond our control as children, are left to question the integrity of love that is offered. Question, even the very essence of it, its meaning, its purpose. Its queerness is unacceptable, its an inability to acknowledge at times, that we can, as much as we pursue love, we can, just as well receive it. Despite this reassurance, these mantras and meditations and note to selfs, these moments of solitude, in offerings of gratitude, to life, love, universe, to nature. Its still weird to hear it. This anticipation of love being offered, is just as scary now, as it was then. In not speaking about it often enough, in decluttering the language of love, I question how we move forwards.

In the emancipation that love offers, in the being. In the present time and momentary appreciation of love, I wonder again, this queer love, what have I done to deserve such emancipation? Where does this emancipation take me next? Where does the overwhelming queer love sit, in my politics, in my work, in my being? How do I absolve the pursuits, the anticipations, and unshackle myself from both? Do I need to? Is it to accept that as this love emancipates my being, it will also do the same for others? How silly of me to assume this, and not recognise the absolute privilege this is. I’d been thinking, overthinking, or reflecting, the class, race, gender, sexuality and creed or none – that exists- within how love is pursued, how it’s seen, its rejected, how love is anticipated, or never expressed or experienced, and how love does emancipate the privileged even further, it is explained and appreciated. Archived.

The pursuits, and of those that reject my love, because of my race, gender, sexuality, class, often they are interwoven into this cacophony of rejections, so why continue the pursuit? Why pursue something that may damage or hurt, especially our emotional being. In the pursuit, there is truth. In that truth, rejection, in whoever and however it is given, is taken as part of the pursuit. Its unfairness, the collateral. My privilege is to be aware of this, this pursuit that has no shame.

Yet, in anticipation, I keep surprising myself. In pushing my boundaries to receive love, from whoever, irrespective of their class, race, gender, creed, sexuality, it is still difficult to do so. It is not easy. I have created boxes of whom and where I can receive love from. I anticipate it from specific types, to unshackle that, is also a pursuit.

Do I have a conclusion to this meditation? perhaps not. As with anything related to love, its never-ending. Yet, this archiving, of love, of queer love, being done now by many, yet still not enough, globally, is shedding light in this dark queer world of love. Its emancipation will and does continue in ways that are not appreciated always by me. Yet my own emancipations continue on, I meditate and reflect on it, with fresh eyes sometimes, more often with beleaguered tired thoughts. Appreciate those who’ve read this far!

And in closing this particular set of thoughts, in Calvino’s Invisible Cities, he says ‘“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” It is this, that this idea of queer love, it is morphing, growing, dwindling, appearing and disappearing.  It also means refining, not rules, but meanings of queer love and ways of expressing, pursuing, anticipating that love. A love that emancipates the being.

Here is a link to Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a PDF : https://designopendata.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/calvino_italo_invisible_cities.pdf

Queer(in)g Croydon: Reflections from the Panel Discussion.

Art, Arts, Black and White, Boys, Charcoal and Ink, Chinese ink, City life, conte, Culture, Free Event, Friends, Ink, People, Portraits, Reflections, Self Portrait, Talks, Thoughts, UK, Urban issues

My Reclining Nude Scrolls exhibition took place at the LOFT, Croydon Arts Store, Croydon’s Whitgift Shopping Centre, from the 22-24th February 2018. As part of the opening, I chaired a panel discussion on the potential to create a new queer place for Croydon’s diverse LGBTQIA community led by people of colour. This formed a part of Croydon’s LGBT History Month activities, and also a part of the wider queer place-making discourse that is taking place in London. The exhibition was a series of Indian Ink drawings exploring the reclined nude over fifty metres of paper, along with a series of self portraits across ten metres of paper, these comprised of friends and lovers. The discussion followed an open question and answer session, and live music by Tom and Jet of the Ninetales Collective, in the LOFT space. More than fifty people were present throughout the evening and participated in the conversations. The panelists were: Almass Badat, Ana Benlloch, Mandisa Apena, Fahmida Islam and Asifa Lahore and the session was chaired by Ruhul Abdin. Along with the panelists, space and time was provided to David Page, Secretary of the Croydon Area Gay Society, who expressed some of their shortfalls in attracting female and younger members to the group, and Fabio Schiffano, a member of the Croydon Pride Steering Committee.

Panelists shared their experiences of places and spaces where they felt safe, and put forward suggestions such as mentoring schemes, events and cultural representations of the queer community in and out of Croydon, as well as the nuanced diversity that also exists within the LGBTQI community. This initial discussion, for me exemplifies both the need for a much more sensitive acknowledgement of the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality towards the potential to programme activities as well as events that cater not to a homogenous group, but to specific ones, thus not diluting the diversity that exists, but acknowledging and reflecting and celebrating the importance of difference that does exist. The beautiful networks and support that exist already means a queer place will take shape in Croydon, hopefully sooner, rather than later. The potential to do something meaningful, led and driven by the queer community, especially people of colour, working together across generations and cultural heritages will be crucial. It was interesting that the conversation did not focus on just the potential for a new ‘night’ venue, but rather something for those that maybe less keen to be seen in a loud evening venue. For those desiring or needing a safe place to be, its not so easily available. Whether it will entail arts, food, intangible and tangible cultural practices, is to be seen in the coming months.

The audiences’ feedback and questions were also pertinent and timely, suggesting to work closely with the Croydon Council, with other groups that exist already and to be tactical in the openness of the process of establishing a place. We were told that Croydon is the largest London borough with a population over 380,000+ people and itself has a deep history with LGBT+ activities. It is represented currently in events such as the Croydon Pridefest, which Fabio told the audience will take place again this year, hoping it to be bigger than ever. The Borough participates regularly in LGBT History Month, IDAHO as well as diverse groups such as the Croydon Area Gay Society (CAGS) and TRANSPAL that meet regularly. Another issue to keep in mind is, should or does the conversation only need to happen online? In virtual spaces? To save costs and to create networks, online spaces maybe a way forward. This is one of the means of mobilizing and sharing, but not something that takes precedence over a physical place that can provide more sensitive and safe ways of meeting, socializing or learning.

‘Wonderful diversity of voices, colour, age and backgrounds’

This event also links with the wider debates, as there has been the erosion and closure of entertainment and other venues that catered specifically for the LGBT+ community across Croydon, and in London and this means new models of place-making that have a congruent strategic and pragmatic approach is crucial, this looks at learning about governance structures that are more transparent and flexible and creating a vision and plan that is led by the queer community, beyond the night life culture. Here, is perhaps the most challenging of any task of a new queer place in Croydon – its diversity and potential to be a learning, engaging and supportive environment, as well as being one that generates revenue and sustains itself in to the future. Learning closely from venues such as the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, or The Glory in Dalston, but also further afield such as Cafes in Berlin, cultural cafes such as Café Otto or, closer to home, Turf Projects in Croydon, or even more eclectic – the DIY Space in South London, just off Old Kent Road – to the nuanced ideas being proposed for a community-owned pub in the name of Joiners Arms in East London, to Gays’ the Word bookshop. It is important to learn from diverse organizations, and definitely not just LGBTQ+ venues, but rather the importance to collaborate with allies that share the visions that are being developed.

‘A thought-provoking and entertaining evening of art, music and community building, bringing young and creative spirit to Croydon.’

Finally, in order to test the mettle, financial considerations are crucial to keep in mind, and quite possibly, how the meanwhile use of spaces – especially units that seem to have been underused or inactive for long periods of time could be better capitalized. Its time to pilot and test the potential to have again, another queer place in Croydon. The fundamental issues to keep in mind, is that the representation of people of colour, of different abilities and class and cultures need to be central to any place that is developed, in order to continue pushing the boundaries for Croydon and London in its ambitions to become safe places for all.

“It’s great to get the conversation started about how to bring Croydon’s diverse LGBTQ+ community together”

On the exhibition: “very evocative! It makes you want to strip off and recline with them”

To join the discussions: follow / like our page on facebook: www.facebook.com/queeringcroydon

Photographs from the evening courtesy of Enamul Hoque

Thanks to the Croydon Arts Store, Turf Projects & Conner and Associates for the support in realising this event and exhibition.

 

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London thoughts: On Privilege (2)

Arts, Bangladesh, Life, London, Love, Thoughts

TheCafe Season of Bangla Drama

Live drawing of the play on 3 November 2017 at the Brady Centre, Tower Hamlets, London as part of the “Season of Bangla Drama”  ‘The Cafe’ by Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (BSKL) Written by Bulbul Hasan and directed by Syeda Saima Ahmed. 

This year, I have had some time to consolidate and reflect on a lot of our work in Paraa and a lot of my own work. As the current drawing exhibition is taken down, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a series of points as we go on to launch some more interesting projects and collaborations in the coming year.  This is a long post / and I am still working through some of the ideas in the post, comments/feedbackack welcome. I will do one more post on Privilege in the coming weeks, in which I will explore the theme of the sense of entitlement within those of us that are privileged.

It seems aspects of life are about linearity – a simple cycle even – for me, for productive outcomes, linear thinking helps.  However, for me, in my reflexive and contemplations on the human condition, it feels correct to meander across ideas.  Often they sync in ways that we perhaps I would not see it if looked at in a linear manner. My latest meditation group session gave me some fruitful ideas again to embed in the post.

Its been a fascinating chance to reflect on the big change in my perceptions. My blog is a good, honest reflection of my self & some friends will argue I reveal more here than I do in person with them sometimes.

The privilege of the artist.
To be true to yourself and your work is perhaps the ultimate role of the artist. However, I question the narcissist in me & the various processes of art-making, architecture-making, and critical thinking required to help nurture my creative working self.  To unthink – a big aspect of the reflexive process has been a big part of my process. This is often in contradiction to the fervent making or doing, a practice or behaviour that is requisite to being a creative practitioner.  The unthinking requires to not do, but to be contemplative.

Yet, the privileged artist in me, privileged as I have somehow been able to carve out the time to continually requestion the very purpose of my art – is one that always raises for me interesting questiosn – for the utility? a social good? beauty in itself, to be enjoyed? to engage with? A phenomenon outside of certain constraints? for personal satisfaction?  a way to deal with ideas and the outside world without using a written medium? Its hard for me to decipher – my friends, who are my most ardent critics have often told me how interesting the work is, and at the same time question why it is I did it. Its there and then that I am at a loss to see the purpose of the creation – concerned much more about the next idea.  The privilege to forget perhaps is one thing – to not atone for the mess created, but to continually remember and reflect, is for me, the difficult and iterative process of art making. Is that my inability to process certain acknowledgments? that I do not appreciate my own ability to make art? or is it that am aware, that it is just an idea – or being my own critic – I forget the privilege of being able to create in the first place.

I am told at times I am doing important, meaningful purposeful work, experimenting, questioning and making and representing, archiving, speculating.  Its an immense privilege to be able to do those things, and I often forget about that privilege. To remind myself, of course, I must do this, to write, and engage with my thoughts. I am always able to walk away from the thoughts – not so much, from the urge to make art.  Another privilege of the artist, it seems, is that it never fully reaches that pinnacle of truth, it is a personal representation, an emotive evocative response or reaction to a situation or an idea.  So is it a lie? are all artworks just attempts at the Truth? So, never really being True? My question to myself is, what if I am not doing those things? My privilege affords me the ability to stop, reflect, and change if needed.

The privilege of the viewer.
I visit many events, shows, exhibitions etc – not as a critic may have to, but as a privileged viewer, and at some point, it feels gluttonous. this year I said I would only go to shows or events that I wanted to really see – ( Yet I still ended up going to many more )

Great art ought to move the soul, or the inner being, somehow, I read somewhere… yet its honesty, seeing it for what it is, that I am always curious about – the privilege to have time to let Art move you is probably something that I am curious about too. I happen, by accident, as a child to fall in love with reading.  It was reading that led me to explore so much of my imagination, ideas, places, people. Drawing, a technical skill I was good at, never really mattered so much. It was ideas that fascinated me. Yet, the merging of the two – idea into a drawing, was a way forward. Pushing the boundaries of that method for certain ideas, intrigued me.  As a privileged viewer, though, I question what it is the purpose or feeling or emotion behind certain ideas, and its this – that as a viewer that can often frustrate – as all that is available is the piece of art – and often a critics interpretation ( that may or not be suffice ) to trust my own emotional engagement with art then, is difficult – as we are forever requiring more information in order to engage with it. A child-like wonder or experience is much more valid to me, and I forever seek art that may just make me react.

Yet, trotting through so much of wonderful, interesting art, I seem to not have the head or heart space to be moved – the penny may drop later, of course…I would like to question my privilege of being able to view and engage with such art in the first place, and the consumption of it as an ipso facto process – as if it requires critical head space. The emotive response to a piece of art is the most important – to know that a certain set of ideas proposed by a musician, a sculptor, a writer, or a painter or performer, can move me emotionally is a great privilege. Being a consumer of the arts, and being an artist, it is a very strange place of privilege. It allows for me to challenge and push my own boundaries, in relation to others, either my contemporaries or the past great masters.

However, the privilege of the viewer is to acknowledge and critique the relationship of the art with his or her self, rather, than, I believe.  The question to ask – does this piece of work move me, if so why? what relationship does it have with my history? with my present or my environment, or my thoughts and emotions?  These are much more important questions to ask, I feel, with just enough context of any piece of work, that allows for an interesting connection to develop and continue on from.

It is, for this reason, I feel many museums and galleries do not have a diverse enough audience or reach beyond a certain glass ceiling – they cater for the market that is already able to consume it. Its a market exercise, rather than one of human and emotional well-being – and if galleries and museums were honest about their engagement investment, they would acknowledge that there is so much more to do.  The privileged viewer going from theatre to gallery to opera house to cinema, in a mega spree of absorbing culture for the sake of it, to be seen, for instance, is still something that irks me. As an artist, I continue to see, comment and care about fellow artists work, and hope they care enough to comment and come see mine. These social networks of support are crucial for artists, I believe. However, for the average or disengaged viewer, it can be a much more difficult process and one that either puts them off from engaging further in the future.

In a roundabout way – as a curator or artist, I realise that I cannot give people waffle. I can only be honest about the work being presented – in that its an idea, a representation of something, and often, my own work is just exactly what you see – a drawing of something. Nothing more. It is not Truth itself.

These two aspects above also force me to draw in a third privilege, although not so directly related, but, I feel, relevant in my thought processes in the past few months.

The privilege to be able to love and receive love.
Over the recent weeks, I have been seemingly accused of not being able to love or receive it in a meaningful way as I do not have a monogamous relationship with another individual. These relationships are apparently of less emotional value, than it seems if I was to have one monogamous partner.  I am of course, stumped by this accusation, and have little way of refuting it. Love, I believed, is something that we feel, and sometimes express across the various aspects of our lives, including emotionally – with friends, family, lovers or beyond and most importantly, reflecting honestness. Although some conceptual ideas about being vulnerable with multiple people seem absurd, – a license to play – it also is quite a significantly simple way of being honest about the frailty of my own human condition.  My human-ness is embedded in understanding and acknowledging that Love is fundamental to my well-being.

However, the accusations or the opinions or judgments that are made – I feel deter away from conversations about what is it to receive and give Love, versus structures of a behaviour found in some religious traditions, or certain societies that want to impose their ideals.

So, in a roundabout way, the privilege to be able to love, is quite spectacular, the life-source of many passionate creations and people, love that inspires and excites and spurs towards an ever burning light of Truth – it definitely is the emotion that spurs me on to pursue my passions. The closer we get, I feel, to being able to fully love, to be able to give Love, without conditions, the closer we are to our most vulnerable self, and perhaps, the closest we are to understand what it means to be human.  In the meditation class last night, again we explored binaries of joy/sorrow  being/doing and beyond.

And its this self that needs to be fully connected to those around us whom we also wish to receive love from – if we are able to acknowledge that receiving love is also a privilege, as much as the privilege is to be able to give love. We are not ‘entitled’ to it. Love, requires work. It is a very reciprocal process, one that requires courage and inquisitiveness.  However, the capacity to love, ought to come from within understanding that the capacity is potentially a finite emotion – and here – is where a conundrum arises.

There was an accusation that there is not enough investment in these ‘love’ relationships because you cannot spread love across so easily. You cannot be so vulnerable to so many people. Or we cannot feel the same, or differently same, with so many people. I question this precisely because to be able to give love, we must be in a great position of privilege. To exercise this privilege, is perhaps, one of the most beautiful human emotions.

To summarise this post:
I explored the privileges of the artist and the viewer, and the privilege to be able to receive and give love.  Bringing this back to the arts then, creating art requires this source of inspiration too, and it requires it not at the sacrifice of other aspects of love, rather, in conjunction with and in addition to it.  For me, more and more, acknowledging the privilege is crucial precisely because it allows for the development of the self to continue – to continue becoming human.   A fundamental deterrence is understanding the time it takes to do this, is one of extreme privilege. Life often is busy with just making ends meet, or to survive. Although the artist may struggle to articulate it with words, often, its not so necessary. Human beings are much more than just words, and this, I feel, I neglect when attempting to understand the importance of what it means to be able to love.

Click here for the link to the previous post on Privilege.

 

London Thoughts: On Privilege (1)

Thoughts

It seems straightforward in my head – in certain spaces, I am very privileged, in others – I am still very far away from any privilege at all.

After the last exhibition of the Portraits of Kamalapur, and in the build up to the next one, I thought to take a moment to reflect on this idea of my privileges. The past year’s experience has also had some significant impact, above and beyond the work we are beginning to do. This post again touches on my identity and the need to push the self – beyond what is known, and for me, the somewhat estranged privilege I have to be able to pursue them.

My privilege is clear – purely by accident – from the family I was born into, my racial, ethnic and religious grouping, to my current social class and levels of education I was able to access.  This determined the opportunities available to me, the social networks I have been given access to.  Sometimes, I even fool myself and assume that am lucky enough and get a break – or just happen to be in the right place at the right time! As if my privileges had little to do with it. I work bloody hard and for little gain – other than self-growth, and for the groups of people we have worked with.

This issue of privilege has been on my mind for a while, partially due to the nature of the people that have been around me.  The emotional being, the part of me that reciprocated with how I feel about certain ideas or situations, has taken a battering over the past year in ways unimaginable in the past. The question of ethics, in my art, or in our architecture, or even my thoughts and actions, including my current understanding and perception of love, has pervaded my consciousness and to overcome it I have sought clarity: by taking this time to reflect. This blog post is in part, some of the reflections.  I find it a huge privilege to stop and reflect.

In this blog post, about privilege then, I can only question my own privileges and acknowledge that others are far more privileged than I, who may or may not acknowledge theirs.   Of being allowed ( due to the colour of passport ) to travel, study and read and be fully able to do as I please within my means.

So, what is it about my privilege that I am acknowledging? Or I am able to acknowledge? In working between Dhaka and London, and in understanding how that landscape works – I am curious to push the thought a little further. I observe how white privilege supersedes all other potential privileges that may exist or I may have, especially in Dhaka. And I observe the role of class, gender and religion and how it impacts the potential to excel, in a patriarchal, Muslim-majority community. It is extremely difficult for others to shine unless you have political or social networks that are in your favour by accidental privilege. Everybody else just has to work super hard in order to just survive.

In the UK, as a minority, with a limited social network, coming from the BAME, and with limited scope to navigate the social spheres ( despite my network and education ) it is clear the dividing lines are harsher than often portrayed.  Unlike others, there was very little racial or ethnic discrimination that I faced, and I know plenty of people that have excelled. Yet, I know many others, stopped by systemic prejudice, overlooked or unable to fully assimilate or integrate into multicultural Britain, Brexit showed that.

As a by-product of a complex cultural upbringing then, one that acknowledged a misplaced sense of belonging – from northern roots of a small town to the wider complex cultures of Dhaka and London.  It is at this junction of privilege that my slightly more apprehensive battle with my identity of privilege begins to unravel. The falsity of nostalgic return to the village in Bangladesh pervades my Dads romantic futures, to the lived brutal realities faced by so many, it is here I drew a line, and say enough – my future seems elsewhere. It is here, where my privilege confuses me & makes me nervous about doing the work I do.  My privilege will allow me to always escape.

This class struggle, of which I am aware, and perhaps, being in the educated middle class somehow ( due to my education ), despite not having any material assets, leaves me in a precarious condition.  The artist in me pushes the boundaries of ideas, ethics, and perceptions of art-making and thinking about representation – yet I have not labeled myself a brown artist, my political stance is about social justice. Yet, as I engaged and saw the realities of other people and marginalised communities, in a far less privileged environment, am appalled at the amount of struggle we must take in order to break free of these extremely difficult or challenging environments, as if the concepts of human rights is for those that can afford to have human rights.  This takes me a to a burden of privilege, what to do?  In my defence, I have pursued, to the best of my ability, ideas and work that I have believed to be positive and contributory to the societies that I belong.  My limitations are clear to me, and perhaps for another blog post on privilege in the future.

I reflect on my observations of the drawing project at Kamalapur Railway station, it leaves me disturbed, and I see the damage being caused.  It is a crude summation of a much more nuanced and complex scenario, yet, this applies to many of these issues that we have encountered in our work.  It requires time and energy over years, and it requires love and compassion to nurture and develop into a meaningful project.

The burden of my privilege is interesting for me to acknowledge at this stage, and I seem not to be still able to articulate it well enough yet – or aspects of it that am unwilling to confront. Not in order to escape or run away, but to attempt to confront and engage with it. The burden is then, to be able to do nothing else but what I do, as an artist, an architect, an educator, mentor and researcher, and firmly, a human being.

This is a work in progress – it is definitely not the end, and this blog post will be revisited in the future. There are too many layers to unravel in one go, yet, this one, I have unraveled: that my experiences and education, my privileged accesses, allows for me to push myself in ways that many others are unable to do so. In the pursuit of my Truth, I blindly follow my inner light, it is ridiculously difficult at times and hard for me to explain, yet, I persevere, because I have the privilege and the choice to be able to do so.  It is absurd for me to think otherwise.

Dhaka Thoughts: On Love – a conversation with myself

Bangladesh, Love, Reflections, Thoughts, Truth

Warning: a long post!!

I have struggled with this idea for a bit and I suppose will continue to do. In seeking to make sense of Love, however, there seems to be some recurring thoughts. So, attempting – I suppose badly – to convey my current understanding on Love – as of today in May 2017:

It is so much easier to think about companionship, relationship or acquiring a husband or a wife, or a life partner as an end goal of Love than to think about the pursuit of Love for the sake of Love itself.  I was to develop my second Vlog about this, but instead, think that writing isn’t a terrible medium!

The societal conjuring of the continual pursuit for the one true Love is something I have learned to let go of.  The ‘English’ definition of Love, has been problematic because of its limitations – and it makes this post a little difficult to read maybe. It was this definition that I have grown up with, rather than other definitions that maybe much more welcoming. The Greeks had some interesting definitions – and although Bangla has its deeply rooted notions of Love, I am unable to unravel that just yet from its notions of ‘Shadona’, which is more about pursuing Love or Truth ( to be enlightened?) than that of the various ‘Sutras’, for example the Kama Sutra which explores the practical aspects of making Love with another or beyond ( perhaps much wiser souls will enlighten me on the journey! ) than the more restrictive ideas of ‘balobasha’.

So, going straight to it – for me, what I have experienced is often Love is seen as a weakness- a vulnerability, there is often a burden of being in Love – this is Shakespearian, its tragedy, it is often a deeply romantic ideas of longing and pursuits.  So, it becomes something that can be easily manipulated.  Sometimes, I think within the patriarchal structure – From experience I have seen men with their of perceptions of Love as a tool to possess and obsess. It links, for me, to a patriarchal definition of relationship, of ‘owning’ the person you may love, of systems where you would be giving ‘dowry’ to the woman, of being the provider.   How does that relate back to me? It perhaps doesnt, but in some conversations with friends who have more traditional values, its difficult to exchange ideas.

Yet, how do I NOT take advantage of someone enamoured by me?  It is so easy to do that, I realise to give in to someone else’s infatuation over me.  I push against jumping into something quickly, and for that I am also naive, and oft punished for not responding.  For people, it seems now to operate in a time constrained phenomena. More importantly, its the attraction and pursuit of Love rather than desire or lust that needs also to be found.  It is this, that I have found difficult, to Love, but not to get entangled in a false promise of the relationship without getting to know someone fully- it creates for me the middle ground of a discourse about Love and emotions, and the inability to acknowledge its Power over us and how it manipulates.  I am not, therefore saying Love is a bad thing, quite the opposite, however, I am acknowledging that my human trait, or perceptions of what Love is, is often misguided with a conjuring of how my society wants me to react to either pursuing or being pursued.

I have seen myself end up in jealous rages, I even wanted to possess forever, I end up obsessing endlessly, overanalysing maybe the details, how to do it better- and in those moments – it seems like it is lasting forever – and also, I realise some people desire that, or those negative emotions of possession and obsessions as a meaning of Love.  At the same time, it is quite amazing the number of people that have wanted to change me, or also changed me (because I gave in – some people may be in shock reading that! (of course to make me a ‘better’ all round human being), or want to possess me, or want to describe needing me as a Love, or be jealous of what I do and who I see.

What has been a good lesson is learning to let go to Love and of Love, to understand the differences of being in Love versus Loving someone.  To say it is ok to be vulnerable at that moment and in that time and to that soul and to myself.  This too shall pass – this quote is oft said to me, and I say to others.  This has been an unfathomable journey of course, and one that requires patience and time. Each Love experience has its journey – sometimes, yes – it can end up being lasting the lifetime of a couple. The stability and security one seeks in ‘Love’, always intrigues me.  For me, Love is a Force.  Can it be the ultimate ‘freedom’, I suppose so.. ?

Companionship, relationships, the life partner, can steady the ship – but Love is definitely the Force.  Does that or is that interlinked with purpose or pursuits of Truth or Happiness?

So, how does that look in my life? a big mess?, a lot of experiments?, and not giving up? Unsatisfied or satisfied encounters?  Is there a point to the  pursuit of Love?  not as a pursuit for a better option, but to acknowledge that yes – you can seek Love anywhere and find it, as long as you have it within you, in the first place!

How to explain that? Without using metaphors? It depends of course on your own perception. Here it shifts away from one kind of Love to another, even in description. For me, Love can be seen as the ultimate part of the pursuit of Truth, or expression of Truth through experiencing Love, in its entirety ( some sort of euphoric, uncontrollable emotion that can be released in actions or words ) or felt when encountering a mutual soul that shares values and ideas at an unconscious level.  It needs to be separated and acknowledged in these different aspects of Love that we seek.

The key here, perhaps for me – taking an approach of the Artist, who is keen to understand and explore his world, his self, is how is that Love making him become more of a human being – across all the aspects of myself. That does not particularly relate to not making the same mistake of falling in Love again and again, but rather, what is it that Love continues to teach me? and how can I invest even more in Love, not in that individual, but the Love itself, and in that, is the thing that is of value.  Does that mean I am not seeking a particular ‘type’ of person to Love? I do not think I am. I have Loved and Love a diverse range of people across ages.  Yet, the pursuit of Truth, of Love, or of happiness, is a very different pursuit to the one often embedded in other ideas -of finding ‘stability’ ‘security’ and companionship, to find a mate to create a family.

so this continual desire to be vulnerable through Love – perhaps seems slightly part of a sadomasochists ritual.  The ability to Love first and foremost, for me, has been to start with the self. In repeating many poets and philosophers (without reference or quotations ) is that you must fill your own soul full of love, to the point it can overspill- this is the Love that you can give freely, without expectation of a return.  So the people that I Love and will have the capacity to love, could potentially be limitless. I must acknowledge the methods that I need to fill my soul with Love.

So – what does that really mean? within the society that I am clearly a part of, within communities that I exist in? and within the cultural upbringing that I have had?

A quick addendum: Having been raised in a quasi Bangla islamic family structure where my father had for a time been in a bigamous relationship – two women and for a period split his time between the two families – was am sure definitely something that made little sense to us as children.  I never thought that I would end up thinking about the idea of polyamory in this manner.

Perhaps those are the underlying references for why I may believe its absolutely fine for us to have as many love or lovers as we desire, as so far as, it is honest.  Where I begin to differ from my cultural traditions, is the need for it to be formally structured into a very simple heteronormative structure of The relationship.  Does that make me into something quite radical? I don’t think so. Although I can accept that I probably cannot have multiple lovers whom I love with the same intensity.  I can also, quite honestly say, when Love does happen – it happens and its journey, or time, tends to be focused on the one soul that I have fallen for. It is from the point of love that I would like to start the conversation of any potential relationship – whether it is friendship, of a sexual nature, or not.

What does that mean for me and its meaning? I can live with many cliches – I live a relatively intense life sometimes – so it genuinely takes time to filter things.  So, in encounters, in romance and in Love too – I am naive.  I don’t realise the emotions that am going through – so the potential filter or check that I would allow for my self to acknowledge things, is oft misplaced.

Having explored and separated sexual love, away from other loves, its been fascinating to think and explore then, what sexual Love is, and what it means to have relationships that may or may not be based upon sexual Love.

And of course, in other aspects – where it becomes blurred is the pursuit of Love as a thing inherent in itself – as a process or path to self-realisation, or the desire to pursue Truth. In this, it can become quite wishy washy – and I have done my best to separate the two.  The pursuit of self-realisation, or ones True self, is, for me, a pursuit of Truth to realise your self as a human, as a being, as an individual and as a part of an eco-system of animals and nature, as a being within a political sphere, a cultural sphere and a social sphere – that is embedded in class, wealth, caste, race, religion, sexuality, etc etc.

My biggest admission, and perhaps a part of my naivety ( as highlighted by someone who may read this) – seems to be that I am unaware of the amazing things happening when in the moment – to not be ‘present’, despite being very aware of the activities going on, as Love develops.  I allow people to take advantage of this nature of my approach to Love. And its absolutely fine, there is plenty of it in the bucket!  Seeing that play out within myself a few times, I dare to question and challenge these particular ideas of Love.

The difficulty in acknowledging that others can love me ( am I loveable? ) is always a paradox – one is the vanity with which we wear our ego – OF COURSE he or she must love me! yet beyond that, how to unpack this idea that Love is quite possibly an emotion that is fleeting. And the other, is our insecurity – How can somebody love me?  For me it has been a mix bag – I am relatively aware of my self and love who I am. Yet, my insecurities play directly into other peoples hand when I realise that they want more. Am I ready for such commitments? and at what cost? And, so, in these encounters and pursuits, what does it mean and what is the role of Love? I can say I have broken more hearts than I realise. Does this boost my ego? It saddens me, instead. I don’t really know how to fully explain that being able to Love, without wanting such strict returns, is a model of ‘relationship’ that everyone fully acknowledges.  Yet, I do not desire everyone! So, in theory, it is fine!

For me, Love takes a while – I don’t know why. For some, it is instantaneous ( I wont pretend that I think they are full of poppycock! BUT it can and has happened. ) For all arguments sake of course, I can say right now, the individuals that I do love, know it.  The journey to here, seems to have been OK (and the few that do know my journey well, will know that it is littered with fantastically fun, as well as excruciatingly annoying moments)  I could imagine it have being much worse, somehow.

I will end here.  I believe Love and life has blessed me in a miraculous way, of course, and I cannot express often in words, the joy that I feel when in Love. So, it is in these moment where my art is often a better communicator.  I can go with the artists of the past, write poetry, or paint a portrait, or whatever. Sometimes, though, the actual words do need to be expressed – am getting better at doing that. The journey of pursuing Love continues. 😀

AND thank you for reading this far ( if you did! well done, and apologies for the ramble!, hope it was a little interesting! )

Dhaka Thoughts: Cliche.

Thoughts

& just when, things fall in place
Things fall apart.

How high to jump, or if at all? Is there energy left? All these different cliches. Inspired by rejection, quite possibly, inspired by an insult.

When you become a mere cliche, a fragment of the past, is it possible to acknowledge the hurt? In moving forwards, I seem to sometimes talk in a cryptic form in the blog – attempting, badly to reveal. I end up expressing nothing of meaning.  The dullness of reality. The energy, sapped. The inability to express what I want to say, again, and again.

The pursuit, the potential, the importance of the struggle. Cliches. Quotations. Life, currently, seems to be full of them. In not being ashamed, in bringing shame and in total defiance – to be a strong person- for what purpose? to what end? Words. Simple to express. Truth. Difficult to live by. & when hurt, hard to let go.

Reality, often seems elsewhere. Currently, my reality seems to ignite tensions that have no ways to be unwound.  Accumulating tiredness. Is this a global phenomena – so easy to fall back on that – the ‘world’ is in a bad place.

I seem to have hit a stumbling block, & it’s the first time the block seems difficult to overcome. No idea what that means. Yet, I write it. I question whether its the beginning of something new? The cliches that I live my life by. The books that I read. The people that I look up to. The art that I make. Its irrelevance to reality.  For what? For the pursuit of a Truth or is it The Truth, as I want to know it?. Sometimes, shocks me – my reservations, my inabilities, my lack of awareness. Total naivety.  The continual desire it seems, to end up being vulnerable. Another cliche. The pursuit, or the potential to live through vulnerabilities, in being honest. What value does that really have?

How to be relevant? For a small moment in time? In fragments of someones imagination? in moments of my own life? In creating meaning, through action(s). In repeating the cliches. The cycle. In pursuing love, when it was never there in the first place. In words that manipulate, control, deceive. Tiredness awakens the defunct monster in me. No energy to shout or scream. Some taps on the keyboard. Another cliche. Hiding behind the screen..

In the insignificance of meaning to words that we attach our emotions to dearly. In the past few weeks, I have once again began the unravelling of meaning of love, family, friendship, relationship. It leaves me with just exhaustion. Its a simple excuse. A valid reason.

The cliches, continue. For how long?

Dhaka thoughts: Video blog 1: On Shame

Art, Bangladesh, Journey, Life, Reflections, Thoughts, Truth

This is my first personal video blog, and hoping this method might be more useful in the future as I think about how to improve it.  My eyes dart around a bit, as I tried to work to a loose script ( I kept going off topic, when I tried to freestyle, ending with long meanders about nothing! ) VERY different media to writing, for sure, or drawing.

London Thoughts : Cutting the Cord(s) of Love(s)

Arts, Drawings, Life, London, Love, Thoughts, Truth

Where am I, now. 

Gently. I am cutting the cord(s) of Love(s)
These are somewhat poetic musings, riddled, more than anything else – and it seems an accumulation on conversations I have had over the past few days with friends, family, lover(s), colleagues and strangers (who have become friends). 

TO CUT
Emancipation is a strong word – it seems I continually seek it, yet never fully embrace it. How bizarre – why choose a masochistic approach? I am often the sadist. My inability to emancipate from religion ( I still have prayer beads in my daily possession ), from cultural traditions ( I am continually embedded back in to family politics ), from unwanted labels that are attached to me, it never seems enough. Embroiled and enamoured, to continually fight against the torrents. Yet, to cut free, in an amusing way, would be reckless. How strange the mind works. To throw my self, into work and art – into becoming ‘independent’, into love, seems tough. Why?  What does it mean to ‘be’ ‘free’?

THE CORD(S)
Frantically I seek meaning in the cords that I already have – the labels that are attached to me – the strings that perpetuate my being. It is frantic. It is in discord. It is troubling. It is dramatic. It is real. Yet, these cords keep me afloat, keep me alive.  The currents of love, however, seem to pull in ways that propel me to behave somewhat ‘irrationally’. 

OF LOVE
To start with. BEING, the identity or label has to BE HUMAN – and that must be enough, always – for me.  To humanise every aspect of myself – from my homosexuality to my race, class, my religiousness or lack of, my politics, my size, my sex, my masculinity, or my effeminateness – To label myself just that – Human – I have spent a lot of time deconstructing my various selves.  I see a problem with continual discord. Yet – for now, am content to love being.

My drawings (random selection below) often are working and reworking of ideas – of perceptions and ways of seeing – it is not clever or innovative – it is true. It just is. Fragmentary, of time and place. Of the self, of objects, of places, of people that I encounter.

My writing, as you are reading – you are able to understand – are often an outpouring of a concentrated series of thought(s).

To Love. Here, I am pondering..  What I have learned in this revisit, to love for me is about trust, vulnerability and emotional honesty – I seek it in my practice of everyday life:  However unsuccessfully. I observe and experience it- in my platonic friends, I seek and give it in family, I seek it in my lover(s), in my work and actions, and I return it in abundance OR at the least try, I embrace its role in creating nature, in shaping ideas, in nurturing the soul – it does not mean that I roam around always immersed in it – far from it.  Its much easier to receive, to accumulate, and I have learned to continue to give – to expedite Love – not as commodity (as it does not come with a price tag, and is not finite) is a continual process. Karmic.  To Love, therefore has a profound meaning for me. To love, is an action that is not muddled in religious consciousness, as duty- in cultural attachments as symbols (or trophies) – or spiritual mysticism, -found in ecstasy, or for me – entangled and riddled with familial guilt. To love, is to be – and to practice such an act, requires for me – an interaction with that part of me that is quietly emboldened by life and its experiences.

WHAT AM I LEARNING?
To acknowledge certain emotions – not at the sake of others. To listen, in order to understand, not to respond and react. To engage again with an aspect of the self that I realise requires continual work. To cut the cord(s) of love(s) in this instance then, is about being ok with the vulnerabilities that love brings with it.  It requires a certain working mind – one that is open and honest.  Being honest – is tough. Yet, tolerance is a word that I have used over the past few weeks – my conversations have forced a certain way of thinking and being again. How to be tolerant of myself? my thoughts? my ideas? my fantasies? my fears? my emotions (including confronting my own anger, in this instance – something I had seldom seen..)

Is it possible through an embracing of love? To not sexualise or eroticise it, or singularise it – to not be related to one entity – but to to love in its entirety or in its capacity to be more— to not be entangled in obsessive lust, insecurities, in guilt, in over-indulged fantasies or fear.

Of course – articulating my thoughts on the blog are not the same, and perhaps hide my inability to act as well as I would like.  The fears and realities will continue to limit me – yet, I try to challenge in my own way. Quite possible that I intellectualise this idea of love too. That is ok. Posibly, learning to accept flaws in me, makes it easier to accept also the flaws in the human being. To love, easily, would be tough. In the constant battle, then, to cut the cord(s) of love(s), I seek to continually emancipate myself from my riddled pasts, in order so that love can emancipate me.

 

Dhaka Drawings: Self portraits & a reflection on looking

Arts, Bangladesh, Ink, Thoughts

One of the instructions I sometimes bellow at my haphazard sitter is to look at me. I am often interested in their eyes. I woke this morning reflecting on this particular phenomena and it dawns on me that I haven’t fully engaged with this much in writing.  I do it, because its all in the eyes. I am told it is, I feel it, I intuitively want to see the eyes. Its something that draws me.  And what is it that I see in the eyes? and what is it that is reflected in the drawing? These are questions that I know this post is not adequate enough to answer – it boils it back down to the very purpose of art and the need to create and make marks on paper that reflect a particular idea to me. Or perhaps, expresses a particular emotion. Yet, those seem to be crude summations at times of a much more complex phenomena that occurs.  Complex, or simple as I make it out to be. I was inspired by Marina Abramovic’s project of letting people come look at her in the eyes for as long or short as they wanted. Reducing it down to a nakedness that even if fully clothed, you cannot hide.

I understand, perhaps now, that when I do have the chance to look someone in the eyes, all I often see is a reflection, of me. In drawing myself over the last couple of months, I have become more comfortable with myself – looking myself in the mirror, in my own eyes has been a tough.  Looking at other people though, has been tough still.  This translates also to my sitters at times, what unnerves me is not their nervousness, but my own.  In daring to look someone in the eye – I connect with my own human-ness, my own frail lack of ability to do more than is humanly possible and to question the very purpose of my art.  My own fears emerge, my own inabilities to do nothing more than observe, engage. My own inability to help or assist beyond a certain level.  What I realise is that I am human too – in both negative and positive aspects.

It’s important to reflect on this, because of some of the people I have been drawing, and also because of drawing myself.  The more I look, the more I seem to be not afraid of the potential emotions that may emerge. I suppose it is a process that can be painfully empowering. I cannot project or judge my emotions until I look, until I encounter it. An emotive call to action maybe necessary at some point.  In better understanding the environments of vulnerability and human life, or in Agambens’ acknowledgement of a ‘bare life’, beyond the jurisdiction of state and still away from the empathy of the fellow human being.  In the process of developing the art, in building human relationships, in questioning the self, I am left with scrawls and marks on paper, that may or may not explain anything.

So, what is it that I am trying to say here? That looking someone in the eye means we are willing to look at ourselves? There is less scope for judgement, for misunderstandings and potentially conflict, if looking is done at the point of honestness. This honestness is to acknowledge my fears which are reflected back to me, and my own mechanism has often been to not look.  To not engage.  Yet, why reveal myself in such an intimate way to perhaps a relatively unknown stranger? Maybe its refreshing to see myself in a strangers eyes, there is some comfort in drawing that gaze of bewilderment, of fear, of potential love and the potential to not be judged.  It means also, that I am not judging myself – not brandishing my actions, not giving in to my ego.  It stays honest, I hope.  It is not a social project, and at the time of drawing, it is not a project at all but rather an intimate process which does not always reflect anything but a moment in time captured through marks on paper.

In these self portraits that I do, I seek to draw out my desire to be honest to myself. To not escape into abstraction, if I can help it, yet to abstract the very essence of that moment, if possible. The challenge comes to one of time, how long before I acknowledge or understand that I have captured what I want to capture in the drawing? I resort to intuition, or some rules of thumb- depending on the media. So maybe a few hours of intense looking is all that I can muster before becoming fatigued. I continually contradict myself, it seems – and although its healthy to counter balance my own assumptions, I question the very purpose of art, again and again – where I suppose the real question is, the purpose of life itself, how is that I came to be, do and think? and in this particular process that digs at my inability to be able to look honestly at all times. The facades we create are difficult to remove as time moves on. Perhaps now, I am beginning to get comfortable in hiding behind the art as well? img_6666img_6665img_6667