Do you feel like you have something of a Medusa complex?
Medusa was my favourite mythological story as a kid. It fascinated as well as scared me, and it brought on these weird dreams.
I have this dream, where I’m working in a temple thinking it must be secret art—for me, that’s a Medusa complex. You know, the foreboding that a fixed image or a fixed rendition of something has the power to turn you into stone. It’s so strong it can kill me. Most of the time, in that whole gaze paradox with Perseus and Medusa, Medusa is the embodiment of that kind of duality between good and evil. You see, Perseus uses her head to turn it against his enemies. So she was really a symbol of duality, both the illness and the remedy.
How much do dreams influence your work?
Art comes from a dark place, and I find a lot of darkness in my dreams. When I started therapy, dreams would be part of the therapeutic method. I always paid attention to them and so does Clinton, who always writes them down. Occasionally, I get what’s called a luminous dream, where your unconscious is trying to send a message through the dream.
But, more importantly, it is the place of intuition. I’m not a cerebral or intellectual person; I try to pay attention to my instincts, and I think dreams are one expression of them. My instincts direct me to have a flexible state of mind when I walk in the street or when I go to museums. Ideas pop up because I do entertain the imagery and associations triggered, and know how to nurture them so they can evolve into a life of their own. But it has to be spontaneous. When I analyze too much, they lose their potency.
Most of the work I saw involved a lot of facial hair as well as women’s fingernails. I feel like there’s a little bit more emphasis on the body now.
Yes, there’s more of the body. I have been working in a cinematic way of cropping, chopping and segmenting the body, like a puzzle. I crop to bring out the mystery. Now I just want to change the general framing to a wider angle. I was thinking more about how the individual relates to the collective. This is the new body of work that is tapping into those broader ideas.
I also feel that literature informs a lot of your work. You’re currently reading A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art and Science. Is this part of a series?
This book says where you are from 1 to 10. It’s basically how the universe is organized according to different scales, whether through biology, physics or mathematics; not just how things are organized, but how they can be used to create myth, which basically communicates knowledge. Then there’s myth through archetypes, meaning images that unify knowledge into one whole in terms of people’s age, symbolism and religion.
The number one, as in unity, the cell, the circle, or God and the universe, recurs all over the place. And art reflects that recurring theme. What’s interesting is that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s painting of Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden is about being aware of whether you’re naked or not.