My investigation of the gaze: firstly, an internal gaze, and the resultant unlayering of my various male identities in an effort to understand where I am at this point in my life. Secondly, the subjecting of myself and this introspective act to the audience and their gaze. These speak of a type of public shedding of skin, so instead of being the stereotypical gazer (the colonizer) I become the colonized, the object gazed at. In addition there is my natural position of ambivalence with regards the feminine. Does my male gaze which is imposed on, firstly these naked female figures, and secondly on these female artists, wish to silence them rather than give them a voice? This speaks of contemporary sexuality and the gender power play that exists in society, of man and woman existing in a duality. In this perplexity of sexuality, confusion, power plays and constantly changing subjectivities, we experience a multitude of emotions and reactions. It is this I hope to reflect, as well as to raise the consciousness of, with my performance art piece, Gaze.
The performance consists of three rituals: shaving, lighting of candles and cracking open of coconuts. The shaving speaks of shedding as well as being an act of contrition and/or grief. The simple act of moving from one station/altar to another, lighting candles certainly speaks of ritual, which then culminates with the “coconut sacrifice”. The coconut is a powerful motif and has a ritualistic association (especially in Hindu tradition). As a fruit, it speaks of sexuality/reproduction. To crack it open speaks of an attempt to “break open” these issues, to extract meaning. The husks relate to the shaving ritual and the coconut flesh to human flesh. All these come into play with the notion of offering the coconut up in an effort to seek punishment or redemption.