Sunday, December 9, 2007
Marie Harten Interview
Interview of Marie Harten by Adam Brooks
Her show "Ghostfuck" opens Dec. 14th from 7-11 pm
at Reuben Kincaid Project Space
Adam Brooks: So lets start from the beginning of the project because I’m assuming that this quite elaborate structure with the sheets, the boxes, and questionnaire all came a little after you were thinking how this project would work. If you could start on sharing your motivations in the beginning and how it has developed into something more conceptually structured.
Marie Harten: I think it started in my moving to Chicago and this new situation away from my boyfriend, family and friends. This new apartment and these things that were left in my room and how these people used these shorts and shirts and cloths (Objects she embroidered on). Why they left them in my room and why they didn’t want to have them. That was kind of the starting point. Then it just came to me, I saw my figure alone in a sexual way. I think it deals with problems that I had with my boyfriend at home. I have this feeling that sex is a way to get in contact with people and for me it was a way to get in contact with my new surroundings. So I had sex with these things that were left behind by embroidering my sexual figure on them. I started to try and feel what was left behind and where I am now.
AB: So in one way you are colonizing the space that you are in.
MH: Yeah that’s so true, I feel that I went from a little area such as myself and then my room and finally the rest of the apartment as I conquered the space around me. I went though the apartment leaving my figure behind on the objects as my tracks on the path I took.
AB: For most of the figures it is very unclear that they are sexual positions. How did you go about cataloging the positions that became the embroidered image and does your memory lead you to recreate these positions? And last do you mind that there are many readings for what the figure is doing?
MH: I just thought about which positions I like to do while having sex. It comes from memory and me recreating these positions, then photographing myself. I had to edit out some of the pictures because I didn’t want them to become pornographic and didn’t want people going crazy over a young woman in a sexual position. I want to show a personal thing of me and the personal side of having sex, you know what I mean?
AB: Then how do you know what is authentic and not just a stereotypical sexual position?
MH: It was more of a feeling and remembering during the recreation of the positions that made them feel authentic, not the pictures themselves. It’s like a review of my sex life and which positions I’ve grown to like.
AB: So then they became triggers back to the memory of pleasure, which is kind of an elusive thing anyways. They say we can’t remember pain, because if we could remember what pain was like, then life would become unbearable. We could also say that we can’t remember pleasure unless we are involved in it at that particular time. How truthful are these images and do they depend on your memory of that position giving you the best feeling? With the work being so much about you, how important is the audience?
MH: I thought about the positions more for me and I didn’t care if they were sexual or not. At the start of the project I would have the photos hanging in my studio and my friends would come over and say wow, what is that, that’s very sexual, please embroider that on my shorts, I would really like to have it. After that I decided to make them more abstract and in having them abstract I am trying to make them less sexual and more personal in a way, but then with the title of the work being Ghostfuck, I bring it to this feeling of sexual aloneness.
AB: Then with them being more abstract you leave room for multiple readings. Your comment about people wanting them on their shorts, have you ever thought of making it into a commission where you embroider them and their favorite positions on clothes?
MH: That’s not what I want. I don’t want to make a fashion line that the guys can be proud of the naked figure. We already have that in the culture, it’s funny, but that’s not my thing. When I embroidered the shorts and the shirt I went through both sides so its not functional anymore.
AB: Now if you could tell me about the second part of the project and how the kit came about?
MH: Throughout the whole thing I was thinking about relationships. I am kind of disappointed with relationships right now….. or with guys. I was wondering how people live their relationships and how important is sex and if people still feel lonely even if they are in a relationship? It was a form of conquest and me forcing myself into relationships by having them sleep on my sheets.
AB: How important is it what happened on the sheets? Because in the instructions you leave it open to the couples with what they do with the sheets. Then when you got the sheets back did you examine the sheets at all and how much residue is left on the sheets in regards to how it is presented?
MH: I bought them used at a thrift store, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t strong enough for me. So I tried to make it more intense by having a couple use them. I had to be careful in working with the couples. I didn’t want to come off as a pervert wanting to embroider their dirty sheets, it was more of an energy thing.
AD: You can’t say you are only interested in the energy thing, I think you are also interested in what they left behind, whether it be a stain, hairs or even their smell. It is all wrapped up together in being an element of the work. If we were to be in a television show, we would be in a lab and there would be the good looking forensic criminologist finding all of the evidence to prove that they did use the sheets the night before someone was killed. And that is what the viewer is going to be looking for whether it is there or not.
MH: I’m not interested in the stains, but when I started embroidering I knew which couple had which sheet and I really thought about each couple and their relationship. I read the surveys and had my own thoughts on the sheets, because one would be very smoky and another many hairs and one smelled like incense, it was very intense. I didn’t find anything dramatic, but these little things reminded me of the couple.
AB: Why didn’t you take the couples favorite positions and put them on the sheets? Why did you put your own?
MH: I didn’t want that, the project is about me as a woman entering into their relationship and reflecting upon my relationships.
AB: There’s something peculiar about you being in their relationships, even if it’s not about infidelity or a love triangle. Part of it is with the sexual charge and dynamic of the three of you, what do you think about that? And how important is it that you know these people and that their not from a random post on Craig’s list?
MH: I Think that would be a totally different project if I didn’t know the people at all. It was very personal for me while I was embroidering the sheets and thinking about the couples and how I personally felt about them. It wouldn’t be the same with strangers, and I think it’s more intense when I know the people.
AB: How did you pair the sheets with your favorite positions?
MH: I paid more attention to the patterns and the colors of the sheets and imagined where I would find them. One of them is very pail with light pastel flowers on them and I imagined them being on my grandmothers bed with the sexual positions embroidered on them. Those types of things went through my mind when I was thinking about the sheets and which positions. It’s a weird combination but I had fun with that.
AB: Well that certainly brings up a more taboo area like geriatric sex. Old people having sex, which we are not suppose to ever think about. But I’m sure you could find it on the Internet and that someone certainly subscribes to it as a turn on. Thanks, now I can never imagine sleeping on sheets with flowers next to my head.
MH: Sorry….. I really paid attention to the patterns and spent hours picking out the perfect sheets at the thrift store. I picked up one that was very grey with stripes and imagined this math student with those tiny glasses and all he has in his life is math and then there’s this woman, breaking into his life on the sheets, and making out, and stuff like that. Breaking rules, something like that I like too.