Lanie Chalmers’ work, I Don’t Owe You Anything is currently on display in the 12th Annual Emerging Artist Exhibition, CORPUS LUCIDA at InterAccess (July 20th – August 18th).
Notions of the gaze are important to her work and below she answers a few questions regarding its role in this installation.
Jessica Cappuccitti: Tell me more about the idea of the artist’s gaze. What does it mean to you to turn the gaze back on the viewer?
Lanie Chalmers: The gaze is intended here to destabilize the subject and object of the piece (that being the viewer and the work). The object (my face) establishes a position of power and agency by way of being the looker, instead of just being looked at. All said, my primary intention of this reversal is to position the viewer in an active role rather than that of the passive spectator. The viewer has to actively negotiate their own position in relation to the confronting images. And both images incite complicated relationships depending on each specific viewer and how they relate to a woman staring at them from above or below. Sex is inherent in both positions. Also, the mother figure can be felt while being looked down at – it all depends on the viewer.
JC: How important to you and or your work is the relationship between cinema/film and discourses on the gaze?
LC: The relationship between film/cinema and discourse around the gaze are certainly inherent in many of my works, if not all, to some degree. The acts of looking and being looked at are interesting positions to hold (and are ubiquitous outside the world of cinema) and can be activated or subverted to call attention to the subtle, yet deeply understood, established social systems.
JC: How important is it to the work and the concept behind the work that the images switch after a few minutes?
LC: The images switch after two minutes in order to destabilize the negotiations previously made by the viewer. Standing between the two confrontational images serves as unsteady ground but once they switch the viewer must start over in considering the space and how it is controlled, as well as how they relate (comfort/anxiety) to each image and standing in between them.