Fiber and narrative project I - Identity in four parts

This was my workspace on Wednesday night. Shown: Power tools. Not shown: bloody towel.

This was taken after everyone participated. The boxes are glued in those positions. The pink box is glued shut, but you can see someone tried to wedge something in there. In one of the boxes, someone put the instructions for the project.

This project took me a long time because I had to learn how to build things. I designed a toile pattern and then printed it on white fabric in four different colors. In the pattern of the toile there is, in addition to a floral motif, lipstick, a corset, needles (for botox perhaps) and razor blades. I wanted to suggest different ways of modifying the physical body. I'll take a close-up picture of the pattern later. It's actually quite a nice pattern.

This project is about identity. I wanted to ask some questions about what identity means and how we interpret our own identities. I gave everyone a handout with statements from pyschological tests, and their instructions were to tear off the statements and put them in the box they thought represented different parts of their identity. My critique went ok, lots of negative comments and some good ones, but overall I think people didn't like this project. It really frustrated people, which was kind of my intention. Here are some of their comments:

The boxes should be more clinical.
The statements seemed like they were from Seventeen magazine for girls to think about their feelings (they were from actual tests given to psychologists' patients, and one man stood up and said that men think about their feelings all the time)
People should have been directed toward the same final question more clearly
It was too gendered and feminine or not enough
Some people felt the statements didn't apply to them

I thought the last comment was the most interesting. People kept saying to me that some of the statements did or didn't apply to them, as if I was responsible for defining or knowing who they are. I do think who we are is defined in large majority by external factors, and when they disappear or change, we do the same, even though we have a strong sense that we remain the same person. If not for our memories, we might not have any specific identity at all.


bee hookup said...

I like the concept behind your project a lot. And I think people who say the statements don't apply are copping out and have too little imagination. Do all your art crits fall so flat? Can't wait to see the textile pattern close-up. :)

Did you hurt yourself with the power tool?

Drew said...

No, I hurt myself with a razor blade when I was cutting stuff in a stupid way. No, some of my crits go really well and some go medium. I think it's better for them to go well or very bad. Medium is the worst. I have crits at least once a week, and most of them go well. Thanks for asking!

bee hookup said...

Ah, my question probably came across the wrong way. I meant to say I hope you generally get more intelligent comments from the people giving the critique. I was surprised at how little thought went into some of the comments you got - the last one, for example. Intelligent work deserves intelligent comments. Anyway, I feel the same way about criticism - strong reactions whether positive or negative tell me that my work is provocative. Whereas a medium reaction means the work is just blah. Not surprised that you have mostly good crits!

Drew said...

Oh, I think I was oversimplifying a bit. The crits at SAIC are generally very intelligent.

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