The value, commodification, representation, and identity politics surrounding the skin are driving forces within my practice. This neon is beckoning the audience’s attention by cheekily posing questions of how we view, touch, and feel flesh—an almost cannibalistic prompt about how we consume the body within visual, political, and economic languages.
This neon was made directly to address and bring awareness to Canada’s sex trade, primarily targeting the Indigenous population. Playing off the red-light district’s notions, what happens in back alleys, and the XXX format or showcasing text—promoting my audience to consider how they consume minorities, for instance, through their art, dress, rituals, spirituality, or physical body through the sex trade or ambivalence to this significant social epidemic.
“What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.” Saying no more, she stood up then and danced with her twisted hip the rest of what her heart had to say while the others opened their mouths and gave her the music. Long notes held until the four-part harmony was perfect enough for their deeply loved flesh.“-TONI MORRISON Beloved