This project was created as an experiment in the formulation of ideas I have had about ways to live and behold a liberated healing art practice for people with complex PTSD and really all people who desire to utilize the methodologies. The end result of what I create is called “Poetic Materialism” and the process of creating, and how it interfaces/ performs within the world is “Somatic Situationism. What follows is a non linear description of this experiment and these ideas. This experiment, i’ll let you know now—has results that make me experience a great deal of personal satisfaction and happiness. My hypothesis proved correct- the practice of creating the work, the poetic materials and the way it interacted with space resulted in an integration of trauma and a transmutation of my suffering into personal liberation. I am a sex worker of 12 years, a student of radical healing modalities such as trauma informed clinical herbalism and sex worker specific reiki healing, and I am an artist with a long practice that has mostly existed within the crevices our world, by and for not “outsider” but more autonomous, communist and wild leaning underworld communities and practices. I find great joy in the possibilities within realms where the logics of capitalism are challenged and through their destruction- powerfully new yet timeless and also ancient ways of existing within the mysteries of love, truth and magic can exist and be- tinged always with the scars of violence, which are themselves revered, worshiped and adored as both signifiers and sign posts. I worship at the altars of surrealism, situationism, sorcery, somatics, sensitivity and strangeness as well as give my entire life to the powerful strength of divine compassion and the unstoppable freedom of wild femininity.
Today I wonder about the many times in many layers of life I went into the silence of snow, the muffled world of winter- a world lined by this blessing of separate snow flakes- rain made hard, and packed down into mounds. I think about the joy of this world. To play in the snow is a somatic situationist act, part of a nonlinear continuum of these fragmented times and spaces and it is one that indeed gives me power in a simplicity of joy.
I have no photographs of me playing in the snow as a child, tho somewhere, in the endlessness of dump layers these fragments exist. In the molding boxes repossessed by angry landlords from my mother who let our entire collection of material memories rot in basements that in spring time, with heat coming as she stares drunk in a dissociated emotionless haze at one or more screens, felt the impact of melted snow, that snuck into the boxes holding memories, and then, when rent again did not come they were sentenced to their great eternity as petrifying garbage. So many different objects and collections of things, morphing under heat, snow and rain into chemical mash. Earth and air heat and rain. No longer subtle exposures to the seasons and nature of our families once was regalia now made physical emblem of our decay and pain. What sort of explosion of life occurred when my childhood photographs molded with the other forlorn matter within the landscape of a forgotten world? And is this embodiment of decay the exact right way for these things to be of the broken family from which I come?
As a form of rebellion, my joy of snow, this embodied memory will never leave me. This somatic understanding of the cooling, calming nature of the forever mystery magic of frozen water in air. Each child is granted these awarenesses whether or not they are encouraged or invited by their environment to experience calmness or happiness. If you see or feel snow, even just hearing about it from what I know of those grown in Florida - conjures magic and aw. The earth, no matter where we are, gives us this hope and wonder.
Me now, this collection- in the settled sediment of my own life out of this great world of putrified pain, touches this matter with the magic of my own healing through objects, my own transmutation of memories. My re-sacralization of all that I create, all that is part of me. This is part of my own wild story, great journey, insane maze of somatic experiencing. Creating situations was always something that came natural to me, let me show you:
At once I remember crying at the realization that “All places are altars.” This was the point in which I only made art with debris and only displayed it outdoors for the very simple reasons of being poor and homeless. Additionally, within these states I came to understand liberating ideas regarding class and experienced the progressive deterioration of reality that made this particularly rough and tumble kind of life vibrate with the eyes bright open that is the hallmark of that process of poetic interpretation of all things known as madness which then mixed with the extreme satisfaction of producing something in which the energy of the entire experience was in unison. A white trash homeless communist whore makes altars out of trash to the divine feminine of birth life death and renewal and installs them renegade style to abandoned buildings and does political ritual performance in front and creates manifestos through a mystical marxist point of view prompted by the sentimentality of manic yet soft spiritual psychosis. Everything just fell into place, through the power of goddess directed synchronistic experience (her version of situationist action).
This was my late teens and early 20’s. What has changed from this space is purely a matter of semantics. I’m now nuevo riche whore who creates altars sometimes out of trash and sometimes other- for inside and outside and bodies and corpses of past selves it seems. My options for artistry greatly improved once the stain of psychosis left with the introduction of pharmaceuticals and I started making a lot more money as a whore.
This collection, part of a greater collection- is made as a transmutation of the full death of my last one, destroyed within the environ aforementioned by my family. The last collection I worked for years to make, was destroyed by my own mothers negligence. Beautiful piece upon piece I had made as a way to heal, that I toured with and put in shows, that I had my first solo gallery show with, The extreme pain of imagining all I made, destroyed through apathetic negligence encapsulates a great feeling of horror and torment within me. It has taken me so long to commit to the creation of a new collection, relating to these objects as I relate to my own body and my own healing.
Now. I am here in my own apartment, in NYC., within the liminality of this world wide crisis. So many people I know have had their trauma resurface as time has slowed down, as we have had space to focus on it.
Now I am in somatic experiencing therapy- which is about allowing our bodies to process the memories of trauma that are trapped within our nervous system so that we can come into further and fuller embodiment of our true selves. “The Crisis of Capitalism Lives within my Nervous System” upon the pepto bismal pink robe captures this sentiment. To understand the lines of power and domination as having a direct effect upon our physical bodies, that action, energy and experience is inseparable with our individual biology has been an awareness of great healing in and of itself for me. Connecting it to my art practice, I relate the energy I bring to the objects, the intention linear or nonlinear, conscious or otherwise, as having an effect on the creations, that they are a physical embodiment of my experience of healing. That there is never a moment where our art is dissociated from our bodies separate from the larger world and its dramas and history brings me to a place of greater respect responsibility, a more grounded yet expansive place from which I create, and how I understand my art to effect me and the larger world.
The creation of this collection- the action of making in my new home, the first safe and autonomous space I have ever had in my life,- has been a somatic healing action. Imbued in the objects and costumes is the process of coming to terms with loss of so many things in my life, the ending of many eras, processing of actual deaths of those I love and committing to this new environment, healing body, this new collection with new meanings that are also a continuation of all that I have experienced and lost. There is a sharp consciousness around the absolute need for my own protection, and coming to terms with the dissociated apathy that comes with unprocessed trauma that has made me unaware of the red flags, or rather unable to acknowledge them for to do so would seemingly expose me to more danger in certain circumstance. To exalt and protect, to honor and give grace to these things that have channeled out of my hands and into material reality is protection, is a spell.
Phrases that I have been working with to describe my practice are “Poetic Materialism” to describe the material forms, and the action of creating and expressing “Somatic Situationism.” Relating to my work through a metaphysical and theoretical lens offers depth of meaning and personal importance to the work- which is healing for my life as a whole in that I have had so much of what I made nihilistically destroyed and subject to violence, theft and humiliation as if what I have made was meaningless and that me and my work was most useful as abuse objects.
Additionally, this is a further continuation of my own consciousness regarding all actions and possible manifestations of matter as holy and sacred simply for existing. I have struggled with very extreme shame and dysmorphic notions of my body being marked tainted and forever profanely inscribed. To understand that all things are sacred means that in fact, my being itself is also sacred and deserving of care and respect, reverence and love, devotional and intentionally done, even if jus by myself, though this is also connected to how and why I would like this consciousness to be spread amongst the broader world- because it is a healing consciousness in which to engage with all traumatized and oppressed people. Its not the only thing, but it sure is a powerful option.
I have helped my own body heal from inter-layers of trauma I was processing while creating all of this by the actions of creating- molding, shaping, pouring weaving sewing, dying, glueing and paper macheing are all healing activities. I created the costume pieces as ones that fulfilled my poetic inclinations of beauty, as ritual wear made for characters in films I make for my pornographic videos as well as non pornographic videos.
The beauty that I mean to invoke within my creations is an act of defiant re-sacralization. It is an assertion of my own autonomy in self definition outside of violence done to me- from sexual assault to the ways in which I have been demeaned, belittled and exploited by clients and by abusive partners. Rather than fall into the trance of shame created through their abuse, I have created a material metaphysical universe in which the very notion of shame does not exist. This is the place where the sex doll is inverted and transformed and becomes the priestess of her own autonomy and divinity.
Fantasy creatures of faeries and goddesses and costumes become poetic material reality. They are understood to exist for our healing and becoming. Objects made from the refuse of psyche ward stays are a realized version of the absolute source of the phenomenon of the feminized madness that brought me there in the first place. There is no room for logics of belittlement in this fantasy autonomous zone. The kindred exchange between the characters a healing of the isolation experienced, the fear and the overwhelm. To inspire all of our relational activity.
The relation of these objects as sacred- imbued with my own energy, that is a prayer to the greater forces that guide me through the ineffable magic of survival and transmutation of trauma- comes obvious in the form of candles. The last time I was working with creating candles, was in a home that was taken from me, and the working materials destroyed with the rest of the aforementioned collection. To open myself to this new collection of candles, creating the Venus and Lamb was difficult at first. The lamb of goddess and the Venus, my adult feminine my sex worker Venusian self creating the safety for my inner child, for the traumatized parts of me. This archetypal relationship also a way in which I relate to my own inner child, taking on the place of protector or my other aspects, including the me that is the inner child that can experience the holy state of joy (in snow).
I have long related to my sewing practice as a conscious weaving, as a specific activity of patching together the fragmentation of the ripped apart and torn bits of myself that are isolated and uncertain. There is a communism, a communal congregation of fragments when sewn together to create a beautiful new thing. The congregation indeed of the creatures- lamb, abstracted morphing form, fabric shapes and faces enlaced.
The clothing itself, made as a respect to my younger self whose great dream was to be an artist and fashion designer in new York city. So sentimental and sweet, the dreams of our youth, and the way we weave them into reality, yet never allow ourselves to feel the fulfillment of these dreams without fear of embarrassment of being so sincere. I reject this notion- the repression of our hearts desire, and opened fully into it within the process of these things.
The day I went to photograph the objects, it felt like a greasing of the door hinge that opens me to mystical action in the world once more- the somatic situationism that is my modus operandi after a fall of creating this new home, of attempting to hold together a relationship always falling through my hands as a result of trauma and addictions, of working here in nyc and of also experiencing many weeks of physical collapse.
I was shy of course, going into public with my art to take photos. But the process of doing so, itself was Somatic Situationism. The embodiment of my healing through the objects, the animism of my somatic healing mixed with clay, fabric
I went into the silence of snow- and while simply existing outside within the winter wonderland, a day or so after a giant blizzard that had me and my fated ex lover indoors doing speed and making psyche ward porn (its now since destroyed) in the depths of our love affair, watching movies and taking many baths together. Feeling the resound, the echo of unacknowledged haunted inter-relation that would lead to our eventual separation, I marched in memory through the streets of Chicago. This was where I went when I was a runaway and ended up squatting in a giant warehouse with my then partner. I take photos of the present day dainty bits in front of a boarded up house. I time travel and give my young self the magic of femininity back- something that had to be given away in the service of survival in harsh environments. Now. It is not that, and I psychically communicate with my past self, to let her know she has survived a decade.
When I take these works into the outside, and into the hell realm of the garbage heap is to take them the precise places that the objects would call their own underworld.
Photographing them here in those places, all of which I have called home- the shackled door of an abandoned building mirroring many places that were the staged acts of the theater of trauma and chaos that were performed as my life.
I think about how I have agency to expose my creations, my memories to this place of pre graveyard garbage, have agency of where and when I show my carefully made creations to the street now. I think of how, because of the logics of trauma and capitalism, my own material memories- art projects and special clothing, and grade reports and other sacred childhood objects were exposed to the brutality of projections of non-value by a traumatized woman ill fit for the role of caretaker and an apathetic authority figure of the landlord. It makes me realize that more often than not, those who are given the power to control and assign meaning and value have never comprehended the vastness of a person place or things being, that having power is synopsis with ignorance to magic. I think of the ways I expose myself and my creations to the brutality of judgement and shame within the eyes of capitalist understandings of value place and importance. To see myself and my practice as sacred goes against all of this. To reject these ideas in order to form a ritual space of liberation in which I come to the understandings of what my creations are outside of the deranged hypnoses of the capitalist gaze- is an awakening in and of itself.
We all can do this, and this is exactly the beginning of my next project- the writing of a theory of poetic materialism.
Poetic materialism in essence is an acknowledgement of the inherent possibility of a person place or things enveloping of magic and realization of infinite meaning. This goes against the nihilism and nostalgia of our age, that often harkens to back when, or simply not now as the only ways we can experience magic and beauty. It is more liberating to see the wildness and monstrosity inherent to objects and people. The patchwork nature of signifiers. How can we transform the world if we do not see the poetry everywhere in everything? I believe my own life has been saved by this capacity more than anything else. I have survived because I have refused beyond any logic- into the depths of psychotic spiritual crisis, to internalize the deranged notion that I am deserving of abuse and to be harmed.
I think about the ways that I learned magic in the environments of liminal pain vacillating to total wonder, the places of literal homeless nowhere, the miracle of imagination, and the capacity to experience freedom because there was no other option- this or the defeat of institutionalization, or being the handmaiden to some desperate and predatory John. I have recently thanked goddess for removing from me the violent family and people throughout my life, and gloried in the realization that I truly am autonomous. The shadowed neglect and abandonment has the light of autonomy and freedom. I am grateful that without a family and without a specific place in the world I am free to be and do however I please. And I certainly have made good on this.
The imaginary realm I create, of costumes, wax figurines, puppets and sculptures all are a response to this freedom and in conversation with my autonomous universe that has so much freedom I am free to see my connections to the whole. The softness and uncanny featuring and the magic and the night within. This is what comforts me, channeled from my own personal healing of my sense of self and place. I bring the glittering underworld of my healing to that of the snow to meet and within a space of calm recollections and connectedness, I let these intuitive figures speak.
And while I interact with the objects outside, I remember this action as a prayer which is a somatic situationist healing within the poetic materialism of both my objects the trash and the snow.