In 2005, I obtained my masters degree in Finance and Economics. It was a prestigious, very technical program; it opened for me a door into a financially rewarding future.
But I never crossed the door. For years, I stood at the door flirting with the idea of crossing. Many appealing opportunities called to me on the other side. Sometimes I ignored them; at other times I would take a few steps inside but to turn away just before I shook hands with the opportunity.
Meanwhile at the door, I was teaching economics at university. I loved teaching; I loved explaining; I loved delivering the lesson, the theory, the logic. To explain the rationality of people through their maximizing behaviors… To explain how the consumer made decisions in a way to maximize his utility, how the supplier made decisions in a way to maximize his profit, and assuming that everyone was behaving - rationally - in his own self-interest, how the market reached equilibrium. And then when the equilibrium was not favorable, how government could, by making decisions in a way to maximize welfare, lead equilibrium to an optimal.
Yes, the theory was beautiful! it made ‘sense.’ Through education, I had been finely cut to fit in the puzzle past that door. But in that puzzle, I felt I was a piece that kept fidgeting as if constantly trying to fit - but not really wanting to. I felt an urge to find an ’other’ door.
Behind the ‘other’ door, I found not the right puzzle but a collage – ‘pieces of other things. Their edges didn't meet.’ It is through my practice as an artist that I now attempt to understand. Now I enjoy the pursuit of understanding without expecting an equation or a solution. I can now appreciate the beauty of a language like economics, but more importantly the beauty of its holes, from which I can hope to catch a glimpse of what is past its logic. The none-sense. A glimpse of chaos.
In Mourning Sex (1997), Peggy Phelan said the words fled because they were sick of our literal faith in them; we forgot to love the words for the “more-in-them-than-themselves.” I am interested in language and its frailties; I like to explore the effect on language if we suspend our literalness. We may have to accept the partialness of experience and the fallibility of memory, and then allow both perception and remembering to be tools of invention rather than recording. That way, a new sense may develop not from History but from Fiction - a projection of reality.
The visual, the research and the writing in my practice inform each other. The verb ‘to essay’ means, "to attempt at;" I like to consider my art, like the essay, as attempts at understanding. I borrow ideas, words, moments, and almost anything that intrigues me from the world. I allow coincidence to make rationally inexplicable but undeniable connections between them. I study and reprocess them and then allow intuition to piece them together. I even borrow people from the world. I collect an action, a line, or a behavior. I respond. I then reprocess the dialogue in what appears to be a collaboration between me and my chance finds, my ‘found characters.’
Although I have an inclination to the conceptual, yet I am unable to forget about matter. As Patricia Berry, in Echo’s Subtle Body (2008) puts it, matter is both the most necessary and the most lacking, the tangible and the incorporeal, the form and the chaos. Maybe it is this paradox within matter that sustains my interest. Maybe that is also why I look for the holes, those spaces in matter that are empty but are nevertheless not absent - in the hopes of catching reverberating echoes of the elusive chaos.