katherine behar: this.construction();

artist statements

"Bodiliness"  -  2002

When following my work's imagery over the past several years, I find that I am consistently concerned with what I call bodiliness. Dissatisfied with cultural standards that require a one-to-one correlation between Body and Self, I make images that show permutations both of physical bodies and of relations between Bodies and Selves. Through the formal strength of my imagery I illustrate this complexity and seeming incompatibility as being resolved while allowing it to remain problematic. My work is interdisciplinary and best classified as "Performance Installation", however its primary metaphors remain founded in the evocative empathy of performing bodies.

When I begin performing, I start with my body. But how did I get into a body and what is it like to have one? To find out, I re-enact processes through which infants become familiar with their newly formed selves [No Title, 1999] and children resolve imagery in waking life and dreams [No Title (Tough Nights, 1997)].

I begin to ask my body to show my complexity and, in a series of performative installations from 1998, I work with the image of a hermaphrodite as an escape from the exclusivity of either/or thinking in favor of multiplicity. Importantly, the hermaphrodite does not resolve its contradiction, but is a figure who keeps two possibilities alive in one body. An interest in linguistics and double meanings emerges in my choices of materials, which have both literal and figurative significance.

An outgrowth of the hermaphrodite is the conjoined double. While the hermaphrodite contains two forms in one body, the conjoined double [which appears in A Shear Miss, and . . . (dot, dot, dot,)] is two bodies housing one slippery self. With this image I try being myself in both bodies without being the same and begin seriously questioning the implications and motives for having a singular body and a singular point of view. I challenge myself to be an individual spread across two bodies.

When I approach Self through multiple bodies I lose track of my location, of the place I occupy in space. In performance installations and hypertext writings dating from 2000 and 2001, I experiment with alternative means of being in space by projecting into cyberspaces and desired spaces, where I play with the traditions of landscape and horizon in art to pursue and escape dimensionality.

In my most recent work, the conjoined double evolves into detached look-alikes, showing halves of a self in separate bodies. What if someone else has my same body? Are we then the same? What separates us? In Attachments and Turns, I measure the distance and explore the power relations between two halves of myself.

In an ongoing process, my work explores bodiliness as a metaphor for all possible configurations of Self, ranging from a unitary self to one that is manifold.