Shapeshifting is an adaptation. It is the work that we do to be able to move between spaces, classes and geographies. But what does that work—the constant reworking—do to our bodies or our minds? Shape Shifters and Other Flows is about the performance and the objects that we collect along the way. We primp, preen, fix up—look sharp, grow, develop appendages that are useful until they’re not. It is about mobility, intersecting with sexuality, gender, race, immigration, class, economics and social climbing.
As we present ourselves to be read to the world, as we fine tune our personal brands we blur the lines between subjects and objects. We create a set of erotics around them. “I have an IPhone, I love my IPhone, I am an IPHONE”. But don’t stay an object too long, or you could get stuck! Feelings and emotions are transferred to objects by the virtue of their affective proximities. Happiness objects are metonyms for the good life and develop cults of their own.
And once we collect all the social capital, what are we meant to do with it? We are inundated with the visual language advertising, to the point where we don’t notice it has replaced our mother tongue. It permeates our everyday life and the way we read people or ideas. Are your friends really your friends? Or social media influencers sent to sell you Nikes?
The figures in the paintings and drapery of “Shape Shifters and Other Flows” play with each other and themselves, telling stories and re-forming into new structures. The perpetual reshaping plays with notions of making and unmaking. This strategy is purposely evasive and disallows the embedding of binaries. Here, fragmentation isn’t a stage to overcome; it’s a place of anarchic rethinking and potential opportunity.
The task of a migrant is to learn the anatomy of a new society and reconstruct themselves in a new accommodating form. This framework and their performance in it are never invisible . They must either become flexible with the constant social contortions or fold over and break. The work sits in a space that contemplates the push and pull of this operation. It sits in a space that has fun with high femme performance fantasy and total exhaustion. Self-making as sport, for access and for life.