and then came this: SLIPPAGE
sissy's glances off-camera, the changes in the pitch of her voice, the collaged cuts between in-ness and out-ness of character. slippage everywhere. gelatinousness.
and then this:
The menace of mimicry
is its double vision
which in disclosing
the ambivalence of colonial discourse
also disrupts its authority-- from Bhabha
when JD first shared this video with me I jotted down the following in my notebook.
what makes the female body such a cow suit?
now I'm struck differently. mainly by the way in with (the/this) video expands/explodes body and renders it something more supreme than the "real body"-- it creates a new more complicated thing: a text. text/body is not a full, three-dimensional thing, a round real thing but a hyperly-unreal thing made up of image, letter, sound, texture that is prone to transformation/mutation. a text/body, unlike the way we are often taught to read fictional characters--- (... hmmm... maybe just the way I was once taught to read fictional characters...) , how are these characters real, how are they like us, how are they likable or unlikable, OR how do they parody us, how are they caricatures ---is expansive, multitudinous, --- godlike. textbody can be stretched, manipulated, pull & pinched, cut up, colored, burnt up, punched out, muted, puffed etc. it can be it and not it. textbody is an opportunity for wild, contradictory manipulation.
in "Sissy Newsom--Former Lesbian" JD is arguing (maybe critiquing) for a gender, a sexuality, an identity that is supremely mutable. It takes a video camera, a wig, some jewelry and accent for JD to be transformed. And it takes Sissy just a swab of lipstick for her transformation to come about-- one that goes from Sissy "The Lesbian" to Sissy "The Former Lesbian". Sexualities are a slippery slope of red enamel. Once a lesbian, now a cum-lover. Once a JD, now a Sissy. (I don't want to stress an either/or situation here but a both/and situation that is aimed at underlining our discomfort with such mutability.) think of this discourse-- you've changed. you are such a hypocrite. you are so two-faced.
Sissy's change in identity took just "48 hours, 7 garbage bags and lots of will power." imagine that. how often have i wanted to change myself like that. how often have i been told that such change is impossible. But do I believe her? Do I collude with her? (<---- not the same questions, I know.) Between takes, as JD gives us access to, Sissy is laughing at us. Or is that JD. Are we to take this as a big crack-- i mean, it's fucking hilarious. Clearly these are also the breaks in identity (between character and actor) that are one of the thrills/complications of video work-- or, as Bhabha sets up in the quote above, between the colonizer and its subject-- where authority is subtly subverted. In only being able to mimic, not represent or embody, the colonial subject reveals the impotence of colonial power and simultaneously underlines the inscrutability of identity.
But here is where Sissy, as the glorious text-body it is, provides me another reading: identity (and all its subtitles) is obsessively, wonderfully, manically, slippery. sexuality is queered and unqueered at the whim of luring genitalia. gender is costume. language is an accent. (SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS) we all have a touch of the schizophrenic-- and I say this with all the due respect. and here's a another demented thought-- this condition is both wildly liberating and terrible.