My works revolve around human apearances as a form of touch, that is to say, a self-display in which the subject offers its own surface as a sculpture of affect. I am not interested in technical mastery of the various materials I use as much as I care about my subjects: I avoid studio photography and I look for spontaneity, texture, and rhythm as channels of expression. I am interested in queer performativity of visual and conceptual gestures. My works are mostly non-fiction but with an emphasis on the pose inherent to social interactions. I archive performances of the self for the gazes of others and the landscapes of being-with one another through a variety of media from art and photography to documentary film and scholarly research.

 

I.

Drawing was like a superpower when I was a kid, something like the power of writing before the alphabet. The only form of fiction that to this day I can produce. And it kept me company during long hours of being an only child surrounded by quiet adults that were reading.

 

II.

My art performs that silent dialogue with my self that moves into the disolution of the self: the split between the hand and the eye. My favorite works are those that surprised me. I rarely plan or sketch, just a pen or ink and the hope that the process will escape my control at some point. No erasers. I write in notebooks for the same reasons: editing interrupts the temporality of the line, the temporality of thought. 

 

III.

Photography was since the beginning a process of archiving the mystery of friendship. I didn’t know what else to do with the beauty of my friends. I was honoring the gift of their self-display.

 

IV.

The fact that most of my subjects are gay or have been captured in a gesture of lesbianism is incidental. The theme is closeness and how the distance between people begins on the surface of sights and sounds that they offer to one another. The beat of that flowing tension between what they exhibit and what can never be guessed just by looking. I am interested in gender and sexuality as modes of self-display and queer sensibilities. Normality is a draught. 

 

V. 

At some point, images weren’t enough. Words finally inflicted their rhetoric powers upon me and I wanted to “understand.” My essays on philosophy and literature, most of which are still unpublished, are a continuation of art by other means. 

 

VI.

Little did I know that thinking is not a question of understanding but rather of having the courage to address again and again the difficult issues that cannot have a final answer.

 

VII. 

Studying literature and cultural critique brought me back to the visual. That which cannot be explained by mere words is haunting me. I have a strange fixation to the visuals of theory, the gestures of thought, and the ethos of rhetoric. My work as a documentary filmmaker revolves around thinkers that interest me and reflects on the visuals of oral histories and spoken thought. 

 

"Whatever can see wants to be seen, whatever can hear calls out to be heard, whatever can touch presents itself to be touched. It is indeed as though everything that is alive (in addition to the fact that its surface is made for appearance, fit to be seen and meant to appear to others) has an urge to appear, to fit itself into the world of appearances by displaying and showing, not its inner self but itself as an individual."

Hannah Arendt

Artist Statement

© Rocío Pichon-Rivière 2017