GAZE AND GRAZE
JESSICA ELAINE BLINKHORN
“Gaze and Graze” was a two-part performance that plays with the idea of being a “spectacle.” As an artist living with a degenerative disease who has multiple tattoos, is obese, and uses a wheelchair, I am all too familiar with unwanted stares. The stares, which were at one time viewed as intrusive, are now empowering and are, at times, used as a tool to engage with the viewers.
The first part of the performance, “Gaze,” was public and involves my morning routine of preparing the face I want the world to see. A table was set-up with my mirror and make-up and I began “putting on my face” as though it were a YouTube tutorial. The simple act of putting my makeup on is quiet, taxing, and time consuming.
For the second part of the performance, “Graze,” people watched me enjoy a meal while wearing a black and white Bowery-meets-bovine orthopedic chic club kid costume that exposed my breast. Though the act of eating this seems insignificant, it is exhausting and something I let very few people see because I often feel like a cow grazing in a field.
Due to the degenerative nature of my disease, chewing and swallowing proves very difficult for me and its difficulty is dependent on the foods I choose and how well the food is cut. Viewers were spectators until asked or influenced to enter the scene.
“Gaze and Graze” was a formal presentation of our innate humanity to exist in a multitude of ways!