one is making work like this." Anne Wilkes Tucker, curator of
Thank you for this. Provocative,
unsettling, and perhaps not in the ways you, the artist, intends, which is the
case always as Duchamp taught, the "art coefficient", the unexpressed
but intended and the unintentionally expressed. I too think art should step
further than any knowledge we have about it, to even create anxiety.
I am crying.
I do not know what this is.
That is good.
Brilliant! The Eno piece, the popping colors--very Missoni--the
Cronenberginess mixed with neo-Elephant Man aesthetics...but then you have that
one woman whose 'wrongness' is totally hidden. That's what really sells it for
me, because there's something ecstatic about her and it makes the viewer go
"What's wrong with her?" and that forces the viewer to feel all
manner of conflicted things while all the time having that viewer's feelings
about 'wrongness' recallibrated because with everything so lushly aestheticized,
nothing is wrong, everything and everyone is so incredibly beautiful.
Right off the top of my head--and subject to change!--I'm thinking about the
mutability of aesthetic norms as expressed through fashion and my sense that,
to a certain degree, your work elegantly takes that to an excitingly wild
I'm thinking about the work as the space where David Cronenberg's fearful early
cinema of a 'new flesh' of uncontrollable mutation denied by McQueen's
transcendent runway women of rapturously extreme difference, whether they be
morbidly 'obese', amputees or normal women made to appear beautifully disfigured
via his couture.
What's exhilarating about your Missoni people and their color-burst worlds is
how they reject 'disability' and the exploitive legacy of Other-terror going
back to Tod Browning's "Freaks".
Your work frees them to deny a beggar's position on the dull parade of standard
attractiveness. The 'pretty' person becomes wan when faced with their
ecstatically chaotic beauty. Instead of being trapped, their free forms flow
amongst the couture. Their power is based on an essential mystery and is therefore
Rather, it's an incredible power they own, the power of mystery and color
I ran across an older email where you talked about a painted scenic backdrop in
the video (fake nature) is it beautiful? Is it beautiful enough if it isn't
I love this moment. I think the film is always saying that beautiful is enough,
and the real nature/fake nature is a masterstroke metaphor/echo of several
themes. It's like finding one sentence that replaces 100 pages of text.
Hi Denise – I visited your show a week
ago during the day. I've thought about it often since. For me some of the
women radiated a kind of beauty, some a grim humor. Some were hard to
look at. I don't know that their disfiguring traumatic experiences are
more immediate or real then other trauma. I find myself unwilling to imagine
living with disfigurement.
I admire the trust given you by these people you engaged, dressed and
photographed. I appreciate the depth and sincerity of your thinking. Your
craft is impeccable. It honors your agenda and subjects. They are
beautiful prints difficult however to see in that room, behind glass, during
Thank you for presenting the work; seeing the show increased my compassion.
Best - John Christensen
You have taken your art where I have
only dreamed of taking mine.
CONGRATULATIONS, Lester Marks
Your opening last night was profound.
At dinner with a couple girlfriends beforehand, we were complaining about our
developing wrinkles, sagging eyelids and chicken-fleshed décolletage. After the
exhibit and bringing light/awareness to the unspeakable, I am struck with the
shallow nature of my own thoughts and immersed in gratitude for the ease of my
own untainted life and physique. My lasting thought is what was going thru your
models' minds as you photographed them...pride, shame, glee, despair, appreciation??
You are a genius. Thanks for sharing your light. Colette Zygmont
Dara Paprock, I want to tell you how
memorable, thought provoking, intelligent and humane this catalyst event was
I have been thinking (and not thinking) about what I could have to say that
could in any way be useful about this incredible, disturbing, beautiful piece
for the last couple of days; The easier thing is always to say what the echoes
are ... I see in the video piece here these variations on conventionally beautiful
environments (treescape, seashore, symmetrical theater stage... I thought for
some reason of late Renaissance, or Italian Mannerist styled environments) and
the figures, these damaged humans (which is part of my Mannerist association -
remember all those elongated necks, heightened color, twisted forms that were
some sort of excess in the paintings, architectures and "perspective"
twists, etc of the pictures?....) I also thought of the busy suface patterning
of Klimt pictures which evokes the fashion/ wealth/ beauty association ... She
is a reminder to me of religious depictions of ecstasy- St. Catherine of Siena
and so on, while the others made me think of Egon Schiele...
But I also admit that all these associations are also distancing mechanisms on
my part to what is a more visceral experience and beautiful one seeing the
video a second or third time, at which point the marks of suffering the figures
wear become less shocking. (so to speak... like another far different
thing from "fashion"). I wondered what sort of
"scaffolding" (to use a word I see being used recently... I saw it in
a Catharine Malabou piece in her book 'The New Wounded') these people in your
video piece have to put around themselves in order to enable themselves to
resume their lives. These are the sorts of q questions I suppose anyone asks
who see your work. Best of luck to you Brian P
brilliant. I've been waiting my whole life to be told that vulnerable is
strong." Alison Auwerda
Great work, Denise. You always knock my socks off!
Thanks for thinking of me. Keep me posted as you can.
Nice to hear from you.
You are sweet to write us, my goodness. We love you, all of us, in a
bunch of ways. Thank you for being you. And thank you for serving
the wounded. That’s what the world needs. Elizabeth Chapin
The audio presentation was exquisitely
poignant. Your very sensitive explanation stops the viewer from turning
away. Elevating the superficial norm of a typical fashion narrative, raises the
fashion bar to a level of consciousness. You are courageous to have focused the
light of your lens on a dark hole. Depth is the companion to truth, yen exists
with yang and one ultimately defines the other. My experience has been
that pain leads to consciousness and consciousness leads to enlightenment. Most
tend to reject pain, opting for what is pleasurable and denying the opportunity
for its partner, resilience. I applaud you and your subjects for
embracing the human condition and layering it topically with fashion.
Your work and your presentation are
truly captivating. It is a rare soul who can capture the human condition with
such sincerity and respect. Thank you. Scott McAfee