Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fighting the Feathers: The Making of Three Self Portraits.

I'm fighting feathers-they sting my skin and my heart--they come from me, always there, riding on my back or settling in my lungs. The feathers I shed may be be collected in pillows for heads dreaming of stories about girls with wings, but always more return. These feathers, this sadness-- tattooed on flesh or growing from bone-always there is more, to replace the ones I loose, or giveaway.

"A winged un-doing...a shedding...or a becoming..."-Eliza Bishop

My friend Eliza spoke of the third portrait as a "winged un-doing...a shedding...or a becoming..." for a woman who only spent a few hours with me on a train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, she knows me so well. With photography, it is what I am. I can do it whenever I need to--it is there for me whenever I need it. I know I wrote I wanted to be a writer--and I am--what is this thing I am doing right now? Writing. Photography though--it is there, it is here, it is me.
The last few weeks I have been really sad--which is sort of an understatement. I have been doing everything I can think of to help battle this malaise--spend time with friends; get exercise; read; watch a lot of Doctor Who--but it is hard to fight the sad when it is determined to stay.

Last night, after a disappointing attempt at trying to finish a lace shawl I have been knitting for several months--I started looking at the photography of Katie West. She is a self portrait artist who also has a day job that really has not a lot to do with her photography. She is a beautiful subject, and knows how to be in front of a camera as well as behind it. I find her work to be something I often go back to when I am feeling inward, which is strange and wonderful to me because she creates mainly nude self-portraiture. When I find myself the subject of my own work, I tend to rely on external factors like props or costuming even though what I am trying to convey is something also inward. I am certainly no model; sometimes I just have no one to take photographs of, so it ends up being me. Even though Katie West's work is different from mine--looking at it inspired me to take some self portraits--I believe that is what art is supposed to do at times--so thank you, Katie West.

I came up with a few images last night I was mildly happy with. I put on my owl costume I made a couple of years ago. I have been reading a book that speaks a lot about hauntings and unnatural or supernatural things being in some very mundane places. I don't really want to say, I was feeling "this" so "this" is what the photograph "means". Suffice it to say, I have been sad, lonely and disoriented--I think those would be fitting photo tags.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bad Reputation: Rock Music and Roller Derby

"Sometimes I just need a little Punk Rock"--Saturday Night Tweet

I woke Saturday morning feeling melancholy. Every weekend in March was filled with travel and friends, roller derby bouts, music, all around interesting people I adore. Is it all coming to an end? Did I just have too much fun?, have too many good experiences? Now, April is here and changes are on the horizon, and I have a feeling March was a bookend to a part of my life that is finishing its last chapters. March was the month I cemented my Chicago Friendships; I met new people who have urged me to keep writing. March was warm and wonderful, could it really have gotten any better?

Yet, on the last day of the month, I woke up feeling blue. The sort of nothing is going right, I want to curl up in a ball and just not move feeling came into me--but I had plans with family and friends. I had a Roller Derby Bout to photograph and my best friend's birthday to celebrate--I couldn't just check out.

So, I loaded up my camera gear and got over to Castle Green Skull where Mississippi Valley Mayhem and Canada's Babes of Thunder were warming up. I arrived early so I could take the group photos before the chaos of the after-bout win--but because it was "one of those days" I forgot my camera battery in the charger at home--so I wandered about until the battery arrived with my boyfriend.

Hockey Mom(mvm) and Anne Starr(mvm) collide as Ref NLP watches.

A decent number of my knitting group friends arrived, and we set up on my favorite turn, where the ceiling lights really help with the pictures. We had a good cheering section, and I am pretty sure it aided in MVM's win over Ontario-final score 125 to 116.

As I screamed for my team in between taking photographs, I could feel the sad leaving my body. I played roller derby with MVM up until March of 2011--so it has officially been one year since I have played. I really miss it a lot. There is so much positive that comes from playing derby--but it is also a huge time, team, and community commitment. I really believe being on a team happens when it is supposed to--and when it was time for me to step back, I had to heed the call. Watching my former teammates last night, cheering at the top of my lungs-even though I wasn't out there, it was part of what I needed to feel good again, to return a little hope. I am thinking about my tweet of midnight--needing a little punk rock--derby is like being at punk rock show--the screaming, the sweating, the little bit of friendly brutality that comes with blocking and knocking a girl down--it is like a mosh pit on wheels. I miss that feeling.

MVM and Thunder Bay Race to get Lead Jammer

Mississippi Valley Mayhem and Thunder Babes Team Photo

After the bout, my friend Needles and I headed over to JB's Speakeasy to see our favorite local band, Thundersnake. Needles has been friends with all the guys in Thundersnake for many moons, and through the years I have become friends with them too. Even though Thundersnake's lyrics may be crass and the musical stylings masculine--it is the most "woman friendly" rock and roll show I have ever attended. Almost always there are more women in the crowd, yelling, screaming and singing along- and a little bit of friendly brutality can be practiced. There is something about screaming, jumping and dancing around--it is always cathartic.

The first band of the night was Punk Cover Band from La Crosse called Homodestructus--it was the first time I saw them play, but I will definitely make a point of getting to their other gigs. Somewhere near the end of their set, they played "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I remember being 15 and thinking this was my theme song--and now when I look at it through the lens of someone nearly double that age--it still is relevant, only for different reasons.

In a world where the wall between our online identities and real life reputations can be very transparent, there seems to be a persistent question of "How do I act online?" A world where future employers can make a snap judgement on your character based on what a google search of your name brings up, but also where sharing your opinions and thoughts with literally everyone is made so easy. How do you act in this world? If you are an artist, suppressing your emotions can be detrimental to your creative process--but if you are a working artist or writer, who relies on advancement in a day job to be able to continue your artistic pursuits--where does one place the line of what to share and what not share? Will the fact that I have played roller derby and enjoy punk rock music and have written about it online someday affect the choice of a future employer? It's a shame I even need to ask--but I guess the answer is screaming at the top of my already racked and wretched voice "I don't give a damn about my reputation"--because when it comes down to what will cure my melancholy--rock music and roller derby really does save my soul.