I'm inspired a lot by the music I listen to. I am heavily affected emotionally by the sounds I hear. Lately I've been listening to a lot of New Wave stuff, which is pretty much the soundtrack of my childhood. My parents liked what they heard on the radio. I remember the first music video my family ever saw: "Union of the Snake" by Duran Duran. My dad still talks about that experience with the same wistfulness of someone who saw the Blessed Mother lurking in the sky. I realized the power of image with music at an early age, although my access to music videos was limited to the short-lived music video show on PBS in the early 80s. We only had 2 channels out there in the woods. Still, it was a very big influence and I would later direct a bunch of music videos in college for mostly my own amusement, or to attempt to impress boys, whichever was more productive.
As a little girl, I also figured it was perfectly normal for male musicians to prance around in eyeliner and lipstick. I thought Nick Rhodes was the prettiest human being I ever saw. The more obscure, edgy stuff like Soft Cell wasn't on heavy radio play, but thanks to advancements in technology, I later learned about geniuses like Klaus Nomi, or that Gary Numan had dozens more treasures beyond "Cars."
I really like New Wave stuff that sounds like it came from the future. It might be 35 years old, but to me it still sounds fresh and exciting and sometimes even threatening. Gary Numan's dystopian musical visions are as terrifying as Orwell's nightmare of telescreens. "Down in the park there's a rape machine; down in the park where the chant is death, death death?" Jesus, that's some heavy shit. When I'm feeling down, I often listen to this enlightening stuff. There's a disconcerting detachment in Phil Oakey's voice in Human League. His song "Seconds," about the Kennedy assassination, has all the gravitas of a newscast but breaks my heart every time I hear it.
I'm quite inspired by the musician Fad Gadget, who was an incredible performance artist and musician. His live performances were just brilliant and his overall body of work was very diverse. He was influential to bands like Depeche Mode and Erasure, but it's impossible to compare anyone to his own work. The cover of one of his albums, photographed by the brilliant Anton Corbjin, is an absolutely gorgeous and almost terrifying picture: naked and covered in shaving cream. One of his performances involved him methodically ripping out hair from various areas of his body and then covering himself in shaving cream. It's amazing shit. The fearlessness he had on stage was mesmerizing, but I like that his work was so diverse.
I watched many of his performances online and they were so stirring and intense, that I felt inspired to bring some elements of performance art to my self-portraits. I like bringing in elements of action, even if my space is constricted.
I decided to do a series of photos as a natural monster as an homage to him and Corbjin's iconic photograph. I stripped down, covered myself in shaving cream, and shot all of these in my bathroom using the dark wooden door as my background.
Since then I have been channeling performance art in my work. Sadly, it is difficult to do this with a still camera operated while I'm holding it, but I try to capture some sort of ephemeral quality in a still shot, as if I've been caught morphing from something.