During private views at the University of Brighton, I shared an impromptu monologue divulging the secrets I was told as though they were my own insecurities. I have moved past that impulse to speak at the end. The only thing I say is “Thank You” to each person who whispers to me. Otherwise, I am quiet and receptive.
I’ve been thinking more about the obvious religious connotation and reverent potential of these encounters. I’d like to make that more apparent by constructing a simple confessional in future spaces. The confessional consists of a standing curtain between the participant and I, which will enable other attendees to observe each of these private moments. In addition to cosmetics, for these further variations I’d like the participant to have the option to dress me as well, e.g. by providing pairs of heels, some dresses or skirts, and other female clothing options. Each one-to-one encounter lasts two to three minutes. From the start, I’d be wearing black female shape wear and a clergyman’s collar, and my face would be covered in foundation with masked eyebrows (i.e. a blank feminized canvas).
In certain contexts and spaces, I plan to explore more verbal exchanges between the participants. These simple conversations would loosely mirror the Q&A exchanges of a traditional confessional.
In describing the project, I’ve decided to disuse references to gendered bodies or expressions. I will no longer use the words female, feminine, feminize, etc. A questioning of the gender binary was a natural progression for me in the earlier moments of this work. My general fascination with the performativity of gender and my past as a drag queen were initial jumping off points for me. In moving forward with the work, I’m more interested in exploring the intimacy of sharing secrets and the, perhaps, awkward proximity of touching another person’s face.
Conventional documentation of one-to-one performances through photography and video can be incongruous; the very nature of an intimate encounter of only two people becomes broken or ruptured by the presence of a camera or third person filming. My research into one-to-one performance practices had led me to this wonderful project: Documenting Intimacy. It is an invaluable resource, and it’s encouraged me to find project-appropriate and -specific means of archiving one-to-one encounters. For Cosmetic Confessional, I may write second-person narrative memories and/or some poetic experiments to document the confessions.