Cold Salt Skin Artist Statement - jngaio 2009
The mermaid figure combines many things I love. From the dangerous, dark depths of the ocean, she is a beautiful, animalistic, hypersexual freakshow monster who could be a predator, a victim or both. She can be seen as an incredibly lonely creature desperate for love, or her isolation could be liberating, exciting, alien.
The mermaid, to me, represents the stereotypes of woman: she tends to be driven by her emotions, she is beautiful and desirable but also dangerous. She is incredibly animalistic and represents what we want but are afraid of.
This exhibition is quite personal as it stems from a childhood obsession with mermaids; every family holiday at the beach was spent trying to will myself to grow a tail in the water. I was influenced by various representations of mermaids from medieval folk art to the more familiar and elegant classical paintings, and was driven by a desire to create something intimate rather than intellectual. More and more I am drawn to the simple processes of creating and crafting. Although I am very interested with subverting the modern plasticisation and packaging of the female body, and find myself dwelling on the concepts of the male gaze, the power and curse of sexuality, and the colonialists’ Other as a Noble Savage, these themes brought themselves into the works organically rather than through any attempt of mine to wrestle them into place on the wall. This exhibition is not my opportunity to proselytize or examine anything academically, and is more part of my compulsion to draw fish with boobs.
Jessie grew up in Rotorua, New Zealand where she studied art an design. In 2007 she moved to Melbourne, Australia where she completed her Masters in Fine Art at RMIT University. She now works as a video editor for an ethical erotica company and makes art in her spare time. Her work can be found in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, The United States, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.