"Crystal Ball" by Gray Wielebinski
For this video piece, I was particularly interested in re-visiting my adolescence as a specific and pivotal moment of identity construction and socialization as we are just beginning to understand our own body, identity, and what role this identity plays (or is expected to play) in the larger visual and societal landscape. By “queering” my own adolescent narrative through familiar iconography and references, this project becomes both a personal endeavor by reclaiming agency over my own personal history and experience while at the same time hopes to challenge our cultural assumptions and notions and representations of childhood, adolescence, and the socialization process with regards to identity and normative notions of gender and sexuality. In this sense, this piece is meant to be a personal and experiential exploration of my own relationship to these images and references-as they are, as they were, as they could have been.
Furthermore, I am interested in how pop cultural imagery and the psychic spaces that result from “revisiting” personal, nostalgic or familiar work together and blur the lines between memory, reality, and fabrication. I am interested in both the act of naming and drawing attention to the invisible “queerness” that was in fact “there” all along-while at the same time questioning, critiquing, and challenging our preconceived notions of “normative” gender and sexuality practices and representations in the first place.
With recognition to the fact these experiences can and do shift meaning every time I think back to them, ultimately this concept of projecting new meaning also becomes part of the piece itself by playing with this inherent bias and what it means to revisit our past at any given moment in our life. The more I try and "discover" hidden aspects of my "true" identity, the more questions I have about my relationship to gender with regards to the society and culture with which I experience it now. What makes me a woman? What makes me a man? What makes me both? What makes me neither? Are these physical attributes or psychological/behavioral? How are they performed or internalized? Furthermore, how is gender and identity often linked in our culture to how we consume? How are we defined by what we like and, more specifically, what we buy? How is advertising and consumerism not only linked to our identity but has had an integral role in informing and constructing it?
Another crucial aspect to this work is to make clear the difference between my experiences (and privileges) involved in both the construction of my identity and representations/understanding of my body as a white woman and how I relate to the mainstream representations of gender and sexuality in contemporary American culture. Because this piece is ultimately a personal exploration of my particular experience with socialization and identity construction in relation to visual media, ultimately the concept of Whiteness as a particular constructed identity (including its inherent privileges to often be “ignored” as a specific identity and assumed as the norm/natural) is an integral aspect of the work (and my identity) as well.