I would like to say thank you to all of you who have been following my blog: I have received so many wonderful emails and comments and it is so encouraging to have your support.

Now I’ll get to the challenge. This episode, we were asked to make a shocking piece of art. A lot of people felt that this meant they needed to portray a shocking subject; I decided to manipulate an art medium in a “shocking” way. After all, what’s shocking about Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ isn’t that it’s degrading to Jesus – rather, it is that piss becomes beautiful!  As Abdi so innocently states, it looks like amber or beeswax, but not like urine. There are certainly all sorts of religious undertones to the piece, but degrading Jesus is not shocking.
So for my project, I decided to conquer an idea I’d been interested in for some time; the way certain female celebrities objectify themselves by posting ridiculous, sexy photos of themselves on internet sites such as twitter, myspace, etc…  Often these photos are low-resolution and snapped from cell phones.  I decided to portray them as a sort of “self-portraiture” and elevate them to fine art status by re-contextualizing them.  I decided to title it “Triple Self-Portrait in Bathroom”.  The title references artists like Andy Warhol (Triple Elvis) who are known for working with the idea of celebrity persona.

Jaclyn Santos, "Triple Self Portrait in Bathoom" 2009

From the very beginning I knew I wanted to incorporate text.  On these blogs and internet sites, the photos are “critiqued” in the way fine art is, and I wanted to compare the vulnerability of each.  After careful consideration, I decided to allow the viewer to write on the piece, like he would on a blog. I wanted to create a tension between the viewer as a voyeur and the viewer as a participant.

I recently recreated this piece at my open studio and here is the finished version:

Jaclyn Santos, "Self Portrait in Bathroom" 2010

In many ways these works deal with larger themes of acceptance: I created three images and gave complete control of them to the audience.  I created rules:

1. I was not allowed to alter the piece once the exhibit started.

2. The viewer is free to edit in any way he chooses.

The responses were varied and some even “shocked” me! Some people’s remarks directly corresponded to the imagery I presented while other marks were arbitrary. At the gallery, several people asked me if I felt offended by what people wrote or drew, and I replied that the piece really isn’t about me, it is about the viewer. I have given the piece over to the viewer.

Ryan Shultz states: “Jackie hates that the male gaze exists yet she is obsessed with it.”  This is actually a brilliant remark! It is this exact apparent contradiction that I and so many other women struggle with: reconciling the desire for empowerment with the desire to be desired. This piece addresses really pertinent issues of voyeurism, narcissism, male gaze and objectification.

With regard to the argument with Erik, it is so completely irrelevant. Artists bounce ideas off each other all the time. If he went to art school he would know this.  And his idea of putting a jar of markers out in the public is something that would be a natural response to the images I presented. I would never try to take credit for someone else’s idea, I sincerely had thought of this on my own. On another note, not only did I model for his piece, but I suggested as sternly as possible that he should refrain from writing “sex education” on his poster.  I actually liked Erik prior to this, but what I’ve learned about him is he takes everything completely literally.  He has difficulty, I believe, comprehending concepts such as subversion or irony.