Saturday, February 5, 2011

Image Analysis #2

Here's another image from the Dark Moon series. This series featured a lot of images of nude children. Let me just say, for all you hysterical, fascistic, self-appointed censors of the arts, that all the children in the series, both male and female, represent me as a child. It's SYMBOLIC--get it? A symbol. If you're not sure what that means, look up the word "symbol." The children are nude because nudity symbolically represents both innocence and vulnerability. The Dark Moon series, like much of my work, has to do with excavating traumatic memories and experiences from the unconscious--the shadow--and much of that material comes from childhood.

Moving right along, this image, "Stake," seems to be about how negative, destructive forces in a child's life can become internalized. The "voices" of angry, critical, disapproving adults and cruel, hateful children become one's own internal voices of self-hatred and condemnation. The animal-men emerging from the girl's body represent these voices and they are patterned mainly after dogs to represent the unthinking, primitive, knee-jerk manner in which people can be hurtful. The dog represents man's "lower nature"; his blind, pecking order, herd mentality. Also, in my childhood neighborhood there were a lot of dogs chained up in yards that always barked at me as I walked by, and in my mind this became associated with people being cruel to me for no reason other than that I was an easy target.

The dog-men are coming out of the girl's navel by something that could be an umbilical cord and this seems to represent how one gives birth to one's own low self-esteem by believing the critical, condemning statements of others. Also, the navel corresponds to the third chakra which has to do with issues of self-esteem, one's relationship with the self, and issues of personal power and mammalian politics. One's ability to assert one's will and individuality in the world and the tendency to dominate or be dominated are all third chakra concerns. The internalized voices of self-hatred are crippling to the will and to the ability to assert oneself within the social group.

The figure is female because it was the desire to connect and be in harmony with the people around me that was the most damaged, and these qualities are archetypically female. This desire for relationship is further hampered by the girl being tied to a stake, which also carries connotations of victimization and being scapegoated, which is certainly how I felt as a child.
The background in the image is a dirty, dingy, industrialized cityscape representing the bleak, unfeeling, dehumanized quality that my childhood environment took on.

Fun stuff I know, but it had to be expressed, and there's a raw power in allowing these nightmare images to have their day in the sun. It empowers me because it allows me to externalize these old thoughts and feelings and therefore no longer be controlled by them. I see them for the lies that they are and so become a more balanced and whole person.

Interesting footnote about this image: I used to contribute drawings to a tabloid called BIGnews Art and Literary Journal which was published in NYC and given to the homeless to sell and earn money with. Someone on the staff used this image as the basis for a fictional story about a psychologist's hypnotherapy sessions with a female patient. The story and accompanying picture was printed in the June 2003 issue.