Here is a little preview of the show catalogue from Heavy Handed, opening at Compound on September 7, on display through October 13. Copies available for purchase September 7.
Heavy Handed is a show that has been years in the making. There are so many inluences for this collection that when the time came to pen a work statement, it became diicult to pinpoint one single source of inspiration. We live in a time at which mass amounts of shared information can reach us with record speed. Because of this, an ongoing set of cultural and individual events continued to inform this work as it was being made, often shifting the direction in which I originally thought I was headed.
Once I began creating these pieces, the work took on its own life. It lowed in ways that at times created a great distance between my own experience and the message the work seemed to communicate. The more I wrestled with the subject matter, the more important it became for me to ind a way to see myself relected in the body of work.
In order to insert personal experience into a body of work, a person must to rely on a subset of memories and mementos. When I began to learn how and why my memory has failed me, I started to search outside of my own recollections to narrow the gaps.
What resulted is a collection of art and artifacts that explore connections between what we are comfortable addressing and sharing publicly, and what society teaches us should remain behind closed doors.
When I was in my early twenties, I entered into a relationship that shifted the trajectory of my life in ways I could have never anticipated. Some say that hindsight is a looping reel, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment.
I think back to this time in my life every now and then, and have always had great difficulty identifying anything positive that fueled the relationship. Time has a way of easing memories of pain and sorrow, but I believe some things stay with us, unchanged and unsoftened, in order to better guide our judgement.
Earlier this year, while I was considering the motivations behind this collection of work, I looked up said ex-boyfriend on the internet. I’ve done this a few times in the past, learning he has no social media presence and no common friends (even though we attended the same high school). Up until this year, I hadn’t heard about him and his whereabouts in over a decade. In a world of mass social media and interconnectedness, this individual isn’t reflected anywhere.
This year, I found an arrest report from only a week prior. On January 1, 2019, my ex had been arrested for “domestic battery – insulting/provoking.”
That was the first time I was able to identify a positive: I left him.
If I had to mark a true starting point, this collection began when I read about the violent attack on a woman, Christine Mackinday, by the professional MMA fighter who had legally changed his name to War Machine.
The attack was brutal. He was arrested following a week-long manhunt and sentenced to life in prison. An aspect of the situation that held my attention was how media outlets were reporting on the story.
Mackinday (who goes by Christy Mack) is an adult performer. There wasn’t a single report of the attack that didn’t lead with mention of Mack’s profession alongside her name.
“In just a few short years, Christy Mack went from being a quiet Midwestern wife to a renowned porn star and cage-side regular as the girlfriend of former UFC fighter Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver.” ESPN Apr 24, 2015
Christy Mack was attacked by a professional ighter. He said to her, “This is it. I have to kill you now.” She barely escaped with her life, yet every story about her experience leads with her identity being linked to her profession in pornography. The subsequent comments on these stories relect a society in which many men and women feel like individuals involved in sex-work or sex-related work do not deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect shown to those outside of sex-work.
What happened to Mack isn’t unusual in the world of combat sports. Domestic violence occurrences are only aggravated by instances of repeated traumatic brain injury, which is quite common in many sports, combat and otherwise.
What is less commonly known is that traumatic brain injuries aren’t just experienced by athletes who play these sports, but they are also frequently experienced by victims of domestic violence. However, far fewer resources and efort are focused on researching the long-term efects of the latter.
In the spring of 2011, I went over the handlebars of a bicycle and landed hard on my head when I was not wearing a helmet. I left the emergency room with a bad concussion, a few stitches just above my right eyebrow, and some scraped and scabbed knuckles and knees. The recovery was strange and diicult in ways I didn’t begin to comprehend until long after it happened.
I don’t remember much of the recovery itself. I do remember feeling frustrated with my progress and generally disconnected. It was hard to concentrate on movies or books. I don’t remember being very social, but I also remember my friends trying to prevent me from being too social so I could rest and heal.
This summer, I was discussing that recovery and dear friend from the time began to recall details I didn’t know… or, perhaps, didn’t remember. Some of these images are pretty upsetting to me, and the fact that I just don’t remember them is especially troubling.
I worry about my memory today and wonder if there is any lingering efect from not only that concussion, but from the other various head injuries incurred within that general time of my life and youth.
Though our memories may fail us, there is a lasting impression every lived experience has on an individual. Our scars, both physical and emotional, have a way of holding these experiences when the memories are lost.
What I hope to do with these pieces is to present, through artistic interpretation and historic artifact, how our collective cultural expectations of men and women difer. To explore how those expectations inform mass media and pop culture, art and pornography, and how decades of collective growth and shared information have only narrowly begun to close the gap in those expectations.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” -Lewis B. Smedes
Hit Me With a Club
Sink or Swim
That’s What HE Said