|"No one is
making work like this." Anne Wilkes Tucker, curator of photography
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. Robert Buck
I am crying.
I do not know what this is.
That is good.
You have taken your art where I have only dreamed of
taking mine. CONGRATULATIONS,
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
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
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.
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 for me.
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
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 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
"...absolutely brilliant. I've been waiting my whole life to be told that
vulnerable is strong." Alison Auwerda
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. Cindy Morgan
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