Tuesday, July 26, 2011
On (Dis) Closure
At New Cross Turn Left yesterday, when I wasn't doing the usual organiser thing of being slightly panicked and poking my head around like a meerkat, making sure everything was okay and that nothing terrible had gone too badly wrong (someone laughed at me when I went to the bar with a pencil sharpener because they'd been using the same pencil for the tally sheet for a few hours), I actually had the chance to talk to a few people about The Lengths and it's started me thinking again about the way that the story I tell about the story shifts slightly when I tell it to different people.
It's a terribly judgemental way of being, and it's based on some horribly feral fear, I'm sure. When I talk to some, I play up the angle that it's about relationships and that it's about the interplay between art and mental health; with others I'll talk about how it emerged from a time when I hung out with loads of whores and dealers and porn stars and was out clubbing every weekend and it became strange to see a body that wasn't gym-trained or pupils that weren't splayed wide. Looking back, I'm not sure if I feel more pride about being able to spot the Titian in the National Gallery's major exhibition that the curators and I thought wasn't his or getting used to being able to tell what point someone was at on their steroid cycles.
Hues of pink and the turn of a brush or the puff of bulking and burning.
Ultimately, being able to give a talk on the Baccante doesn't preclude living like one of their number, so this urge to compartmentalise myself - an urge to divide and adapt - literally (and I use that to mean "on the level of a symbol within a story" not, "this is a historically accurate truth") would tear me apart.
It's ridiculous, really, because I think it's pretty obvious that I wouldn't be able to write a story like The Lengths without some personal experience beyond the interviews I did and that the emotional core of it is bound to be, on some level or another, autobiographical. Ex boyfriends who read it give me a look and say, "This is about why we needed to break up, isn't it?"
Having a life where you have to keep more than one CV is not a life and it'd be a misnomer to say it's a curriculum vitae. Of course you can't tell everyone everything, but this way of being where you need to remember which thing you have and haven't told which person is the kind of which-craft I think is a black art that's just toxic.
I make a comic about drug using dog-headed whores in London. I'm okay with that. The chances are that my concerns about it being too personal are totally misplaced and that, like my ex boyfriends, when you read it, it'll turn out that it's about you as much as it is about me and that we're all making the same stupid mistakes that Eddie's making.
If you've not picked up your copy of The Lengths yet, you can buy issues 1 and 2 from your local UK comics store or from my web shop here. I'll be giving a talk about The Lengths at Laydeez Do Comix on the 22nd of August. Issue 3 will be in shops in the first week of September, which is also when I have my MA show at Camberwell College of Arts and will have a little display of my work and my sketchbooks and development work from The Lengths up. The Private View (which, of course, you're all invited to) is on the 6th of September from 6pm and I'll have issues 1-3 to sell, as well as my other books and prints and other stuff there too.