Sunday, January 8, 2017

Shut Up

As I arrive at that familiar place in this writing where I think - why and what for and for whom, I keep thinking of Chris Kraus and the idea of speaking anyway, even if (it feels like) everything and everyone around you is telling you to Shut Up (especially yourself). I really want myself to Shut Up today, and especially with regards to those Hannah Wilke photos, but I can feel this in-built little tick inside me saying It's when you want yourself to Shut Up that is the most important time to speak. Is this true? I dunno. Dick Hebdige asked Chris Kraus to Shut Up, but he didn't realise the book had nothing to do with him, and speaking up made him look like he thought it was about him and thus a real Dick. He should have Shut Up, ignored the tick. In the book he comes off fine, it's her spiralling, icky, ugly self-humiliation we see, she lets us glimpse into her soul. Her passages about Hannah Wilke, who like her allowed us to witness her ugly (and beautiful) truth, have entered my psyche and are making me feel sick, to a point I don't want to write about them or post them, and so I am, because the tick is telling me that means I should. I can't stop thinking about her, how brutal her career was - precursor to the revered and 'more impersonal impersonation' artists like Sophie Calle and Cindy Sherman. Her beauty holding her back, even when documenting her gut-wrenching demise from cancer. The wall of Shut Up she faced, people writing things in the Village Voice like 'Hannah's vagina is now as familiar to us as an old shoe.' Dismissing her work as narcissistic, exhibitionistic (while complimenting it at the same time):

Even her series of photographs self-documenting her cancer-ravaged body were described as: 'A deeply thrilling venture into narcissism.' As if the only possible reason for a woman to publically reveal herself could be self-therapeutic, says Chris Kraus. As if the point was not to reveal the circumstances of one's own objectification.

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