ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, Irish artist Saoirse Wall talks about her video performance piece Den Perfekte Saoirse (The Perfect Saoirse), twerking and appropriating Jorgen Leth.
A recurring theme in my work seems to be my fixation with and my pride in my own failures. One day, I really quickly wrote down a list of things I wished I was good at (but am not good at) in my notebook. Afterwards, I was disappointed in myself that the list was so super superficial.
I thought it was interesting that none of the things that popped into my head were things that I actually cared about. Or the things that I feel like I am allowed to care about. I get really annoyed at myself when I catch myself feeling body-negitive and my way of dealing with that is to bring a lot of attention to my imperfections. If people see my flaws and still want to be friends with me, it makes me feel good. So, if I feel sad because I look too fat, I’ll instagram a pic of my fat rolls or something.
I decided to make a sort of a promo video for myself, advertising myself as having skills and traits which I don’t have as a way of mocking myself for being shallow and as a way of showing off my almost-skills (like the pose a yoga-teacher friend taught me, or the terrible attempt at twerking.) Like so many, I fancy myself as a bit of a superstar and thanks to social media, I basically am. I’d made stuff based around the idea of the self-made celeb before, like nxt top diva!!!!!
This piece was just an extension of my stardom.
Recently, I started to worry about whether the twerking bit was problematic or offensive (re: Miley), so I had a chat with some friends who made the points that…
(1) “In the video, isn’t it you that’s the butt (hah) of the joke, not anyone else?” and (2) “What of the cultural appropriation of Jorgen Leth? Did anyone spare a thought for his feelings? His feelings of loss as he clamors at the camera that has turned its back on him.”
And, of course, Jorgen Leth must be mentioned. My piece is obviously heavily inspired by his film The Perfect Human (1967). In his piece we see the Perfect Human doing perfect human things, being perfectly human… and in mine, we see The Perfect Saoirse doing perfect Saoirse things, being perfectly Saoirse.
The Perfect Saoirse (2013)
Previous Artist’s Notebook selects:
Artist’s Notebook: Jesse Darling
Artist’s Notebook: Melissa F. Clarke
Artist’s Notebook: Tristan Perich
Artist’s Notebook: LaTurbo Avedon
Artist’s Notebook: Emilie Gervais
Artist’s Notebook: Addie Wagenknecht
Artist’s Notebook: Alexandra Gorczynski