The reality artist using makeup to fight the patriarchy

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Signe PiercePhotography Marina Fini

A regular on the art scenes of New York and LA, Signe Pierce is calling bullshit on ‘empowering feminist’ advertising and the way products are sold to fuel our sense of self-worth. Through a combination of performance art, installation and photo prints, Pierce is creating accessible, intersectional feminist art in a world where companies cashing in on female empowerment is a pervasive and problematic normality. Fascinated by the American landscape of abandoned shopping malls and the cultural shift of more and more of us living life largely online, Pierce’s work deals with ideas of capitalism and identity through a dreamy, flashing-neon lens.

Despite her expressing a distaste for “pretentious” and sterile art fairs, Art Basel has played a significant role in Pierce’s career. It was at the festival two years ago that her now-viral short American Reflexxx premiered. A collaboration between Pierce and Alli Coates, the short saw her descend on South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach in a blue mini-dress, stripper heels and a reflective mirror mask. Without ruining the hard-to-watch video for those yet to see it, the 14-minute short sees Pierce subjected to misogyny, transphobia and physical aggression. Since its internet debut earlier this year, the video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube, picked up by international news outlets,  and used by teachers to educate students on LGBTQ rights. And while it may have been the internet, not the Art Basel premiere, that catapulted the short film to popularity, Pierce still decided to debut two new works at the fair this year. Following on from her recent performances, we speak to the cyberfeminist about life after American Reflexxx, art-industry snobbery and the importance of keeping it sleazy.

During Art Basel this year you performed a ‘make-up tutorial’, ‘U R Wut U Eat’, at an abandoned pharmacy. How did this performance come about?

The Pharmacy was an hour-long performance curated by Otionfront Studios, which is a collective of performance artists who run a studio out of Bushwick, Brooklyn. In my opinion, they are staging some of the most interesting experimental performance pieces in New York right now, with performance art duo FlucT (Monica Mirabile and Sigrid Lauren) serving as the founders and lead curators. The event featured a fusion of works by performance group BUOY (Bailey Nolan, Viva Soudan and Ellen Robin Rosenberg), Richard Kennedy, a collaboration between India Menuez, Alexandra Marzella and Claire Christerson, Otionfront (Mirabile, Lauren, Kathleen Dycaico, Gina Chiappetta and Sarah Kinlaw), and myself.

What made you want to experiment with make-up in your work?

I’ve been toying with make-up tutorials-as-art performances for a year or so, and for ‘U R Wut U Eat’ I used materials that you would typically ingest in order to bring ‘the beauty that’s on the inside, out.’  

The overarching theme of this particular performance was using typical pharmacy remedies to help you get through the nauseating expectations of the patriarchy. ‘Rub Muscle Milk on your face to help tighten your face muscles for when men inevitably tell you to ‘Smile!’’, ‘Use Adderall for a pop of colour on your eyelids to give you energy while working twice as hard to earn less than your male co-workers,’ ‘Drink your own blood for those classic Taylor Swift red lips that never go out of style.’ There’s a comedic slant to the monologues, I want them to be funny and irreverent as I’m slathering toothpaste and Adderall all over my face, but the overarching message is political. It’s a deconstruction of the pressures and outside forces that consume women within their own identities. I’m also going to be filming a series of these make-up tutorials to be released as an interactive show in 2016. 

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U R Wut U Eat- Signe PierceU R Wut U Eat Photography Walter Wlodarczyk

During the art fair you also took part in a group immersive installation called ‘Motelscape’, which seemed much more of a polished experience than ,U R Wut U Eat’ yet still nowhere near the traditional gallery context by any means. How did you get involved with ‘Motelscape’ and what was involved in the installation?

‘Motelscape’ is the lovechild of me and my two friends/collaborators Marina Fini and Sierra Grace. We’ve been working on the concept of doing an immersive installation inside of a motel for months. Marina lives in LA and is a plexiglass furniture and jewellery designer, as well as a being a dope photographer and stylist, and Sierra lives in Miami and is one of my favorite photographers and artists. We’re all very inspired by one another, and the worlds that we capture in our individual works, so a love motel seemed like the perfect setting to exhibit collectively.

Sierra scouted around some various motels and the Miami Princess Hotel ended up being this perfect, 80s sleaze haven. We chose the love suite, which featured a heart-shaped bed, jacuzzi and a stripper pole, and infused it with our love of lush, colourful lighting and interior decoration. We chose to exhibit our photos by printing them on towels, pillowcases, and lenticulars, and collaborated with light artist Sydney Krause to create custom neon and LED pieces. We also worked with LA by way of Kansas City fashion designer, Peggy Noland, to make a shower curtain collage from our Tumblr feeds. Marina debuted a custom line of plexiglass furniture and installed a holographic floor, and we worked together to curate the lighting design to exude a specific glow that’s reflective of our photo and video work. We wanted it to be an escape from the pretentious art fairs that consume South Beach, and to inject some colour, vibrance and guerilla technique into the Art Basel experience.  

We also produced an accompanying zine, which we thought would be a cool, accessible way of compiling our photo work and giving people an idea of our individual styles, as well as exposing our work to new audiences.

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MotelscapeMotelscape Photography Marina Fini

“The word ‘feminism’ can often feel binary, but I think that the cyberfeminist movement is interested in eliminating these binaries by advocating a concept of expanding identities beyond the limits of our bodies and/or assigned genitalia to be something more than human”– Signe Pierce

American Reflexxx, a film created by you and Alli Coates, received an amazing response earlier this year. How did it feel to move forward as an artist after the media attention the short attracted?

It was thrilling to get that piece out there into the world after sitting on it for quite some time. We had been screening it at art fairs and festivals for most of 2014 so we halted on immediately uploading it to YouTube. The feedback has been so incredibly positive and overwhelming. It’s exciting as an artist to watch your work touch people on such a human level. I loved that millions of people were exposed to an art film and that we didn’t need some kiss of approval from the art world to make it happen. Art should be accessible to everyone, not just multi-millionaire collectors and dealers.  

Your work seem to be focussed around themes of digital living, feminism and queer identity. Do you feel like these are themes that are taken seriously at big art fairs such as Art Basel?

I don’t know that they’re necessarily taken seriously at the art fairs, because it seems to me that those fairs thrive on a more facile, money-driven agenda. That’s not to say there isn’t great work at the art fairs, there absolutely is. But I personally don’t attend art fairs in search of an authentic artistic revelation. I think the money side of the art world is pretty antithetical to the reasons that a lot of artists create work in the first place, which is such a bizarre paradox. But even though the bloated, excessive spectacle of Art Basel can often be eye-roll-inducing, I think it’s important to stage these gallery pop-ups and performances to remind people that not all art has to be attached to a five figure price tag or staged in a big white tent to make it good or worth seeing. The best and most provocative art usually isn’t.

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MotelscapeMotelscape Photography Marina Fini

The concept of cyberfeminism is one that has recently seen a surge in popularity. As someone who identifies with the movement, what does cyberfeminism mean to you?

It’s interesting the way that word/concept has been experiencing such a strong resurgence in the past year or two, because it’s been around since the 80s and has experienced many thought waves. For me it is a continuation of ideas from the women who pioneered these concepts before the internet became what it is today. Women like Donna Haraway (author of A Cyborg Manifesto) and VNS Matrix (who penned A Cyberfeminist Manifesto), who were writing about the burgeoning digital evolution as being instrumental for women to reclaim their bodies, minds and identities through technology, which is happening very actively in 2015.

I will stress that it’s important to me, that I want our political ideals and agendas to not be limited to the notions of just those who identify as ‘female’ – the spectrum is too limitless for that. The word ‘feminism’ can often feel somewhat binary, but I think that the cyberfeminist movement is interested in eliminating these binaries by advocating a concept of expanding identities beyond the limits of our bodies and/or assigned genitalia to be something more than human. I think that women who live their lives presentationally on the internet are doing a lot for the movement, whether or not they identify as ‘cyberfeminist’ is up to them. Off the top of my head, I personally am inspired by the works of Molly Soda, Juliana Huxtable, May Waver, Alexandra Marzella, and Vasilisa Forbes in terms of reclaiming a space online to be open advocates for the ways that our bodies and identities are consumed and perceived.

What else did you check out during the week at Art Basel?

I was so busy working on the installation and performance that I didn’t have a chance to see as much as I wanted to. I saw Sophie DJ on Thursday night which was cool, I love what they’re doing by fusing music with conceptual/visual art. I saw Vector Gallery’s installation at the Satellite Art Fair, which I loved. And I checked out the Scope Art Fair, which had some good stuff and also some awful stuff.  

I know this may sound cliche, but I find the things we see in day-to-day life to be just as artful as something that was explicitly created with artistic intention. Art imitates life. I saw a Barbie Jeep floating in a parking lot in Little Havana when I was walking with Marina on Friday, and it made me feel more than anything else that I saw walking through the hotels and art fairs. I took a photo of it and dubbed it ‘Drowning Barbie Jeep’, dedicated to Marcel Duchamp. Driving around the Florida suburbs and seeing the reality of life outside of the bougie art fairs was also a highlight of the trip, both in terms of leisure and in terms of seeing interesting art. I plan on returning there in the next year or two to do some extended documentation about that world.

Keep up with Signe Pierce here

How Did you Pick Your User Name?

You might pick a few user names over the time you are on the Internet. Likely, you have a selection depending on where you are and who you are communicating with too.

The name you pick for yourself says a lot about you. Even if you didn’t intend it to have any real meaning beyond what seemed obvious to you at the time. Women may look at a name and read more into it than men expect. I often wonder if men really understand what their online names say about them.

I found a list of ick factor names men often use. It is a great list – I’ve felt the same way about user names like these. As a Domme looking to meet men online (I’ve kind of stopped looking now) any name like those below is a turn off. To me each of them show a one track mind, focused on his needs/ wants and not leaving any imagination or care for me. Almost no men online (on dating/ personal sites) will ask what I want until they have exhausted their own laundry list of what they will do for me. Silly boys, how can you know what I want if you are focused on what you want and ignore me.

Kind of like dealing with a telemarketer on the phone – you can put the phone down and just leave them talking to themselves until they finally hang up.

From an old post on Domme Chronicles:

If a submale has a user name that communicates an icky message, he is going to have to work *extra* hard to make me believe he’s actually an intelligent, thinking human being.

Examples of names with the ick factor:

  • Names that focus on your fetish: footslave; oralslut; hot4latex, cuckme.
  • Those that offer sexual use to the world: open4yrstrapon, slave4youtouse, toiletpaperboy4u, useme4sex, sexslave4u.
  • Anything with the number ‘4’ in it: see above.
  • Explicit sexual names: bigdick4u, tinycockboy, tongueyrclit, fuckmyarse, sixtyniner.
  • Names that make you look like a fantasist: lockmeup24-7, castrateme, extremesub, nolimitslarry.

My comment:

I will often pick out a clever user name as someone to chat with online. When I don’t really know anything else about the person, not even gender these days, I hope the name shows something about them – clever, creative and maybe interested in history or science fiction (if the name connects to something I also know and like). Mainly I like a clever name because it shows (he?) might have interests to talk about rather than drooling on about “serving me” before knowing what I even like or want.

I picked Darla Darling because my ex-husband called me DarLink when we talked online. So it became Darla Darling because I also liked that name from the old Little Rascals TV shows. Also, it worked well when I came up with the name for my site, thinking of the Gabor sisters. In a roundabout way it all worked out.

Do People Play BDSM Online to Skip the Aftercare?

I know people who will only play online. They say they are into BDSM but I don’t agree. They are missing two important parts of the whole BDSM relationship. The actual parts which make it a relationship.

Is that why they don’t want to have anything real? If it were real, would that make it too real for them?

So what are they missing, you may be wondering. First, the reality. How does it really feel to experience your fantasies, fetishes and kinks? How does it feel physically, emotionally and mentally. Second, the after care.

BDSM online doesn’t involve aftercare. It’s all over once the climax happens. Each person leaves, some leave even before the end, some leave right after the end and some make excuses (not always polite) and leave.

It’s so easy to leave that way. You don’t have a real connection, just an Internet connection. Nothing like a real relationship where you share the same space emotionally, mentally and physically.

No wonder people doubt the sincerity and authenticity of online play. It really isn’t actually real. Not just the lack of commitment but the lack of real contact at all. Online play lacks real involvement, responsibility and shared emotion. No matter what anyone thinks or feels, it is all one sided.

I know because I have done online play. Not dabbled in it but actually spent months and years playing that way. I defended it then too. But, I knew reality was very different. I had reality with my husband. (No I was not cheating on him, we weren’t married very long and I played before and after).

Online play is lonely.

Online play leaves you wanting more. That only works in show business. Wanting more is not good when it happens to you. It makes you needy, clingy and very sad.

Anyway, it’s a shame there is no aftercare with online play. It could make all the difference to the people involved. But, I think that is the attraction for most of them. Even as they yearn for something real they don’t want to give anything real to someone else. They seek care but want it all for themselves. Is that why there are so many more women as BDSM submissives than Domme online?

So many interesting questions and I’m just here talking to myself. But, it’s real. Until I find someone who can share something real with me I’d rather be alone than feel even more alone while I’m with someone else.

Once a BDSM scene has physically ended, the connection between Dom and sub is still very much active, learn how best to deal with aftercare.

Source: The Importance of Aftercare | bdsm-talk.co.uk

Wikipedia’s Greatest Sex Illustrator Is an Anonymous Legend

His style is unmistakable, and nearly as striking as his subject matter: Clean vector graphics, gradient colors, blank and ominous backgrounds.

 

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Across Wikipedia, dozens of articles on sex–from missionary position to mammary intercourse–are adorned by strikingly graphic illustrations from the same mysterious illustrator. Here, we’ve collected a few of the artist known only as Seedfeeder’s greatest works.

Anyone who remains anonymous is forever a mystery. That’s the allure. Seedfeeder will be remembered and remain part of history long after others who took credit for their work are forgotten.Their images may live on – but their names won’t. In the long run Seedfeeder may be remembered longer than those who have names.

 

Retro Internet: The 1500 Point Purity Test

Long ago, in the days of the Internet surfing highway, there was a purity test with over 1000 questions. I found a copy of it. Posted for your viewing (or take the test) pleasure.

THE UNISEX PURITY TEST

If you thought the millenial purity test was bad, well you ain’t see
nuttin’ yet!

This is the 1500 point Purity Test!

We felt that the 1000 point version lost a lot of the “fun” of the
earlier versions, so we re-wrote it, adding a few new sections, and
a shitload of questions. This test is guaranteed to be nosier that
your parents, more invasive than the census, and containing something
to offend everybody.

Also included is an answer form so that you can remember where in the
test you were, or show to a friend.

Continue reading Retro Internet: The 1500 Point Purity Test

Strezzing

Originally posted to Sex Kitten (2003 – 2004)

Do you handle your stress or does it handle you? I’ve found a way to do both, to my satisfaction.

Stress should be spelt with a few zeds, it’s just that kind of word. Trendy geek types have been adding zeds to words like crackz, hackerz and warez. But, they missed strezz.

How do you handle strezz? Do you throw things, yell at people or take it out on other people in more random ways? My Dad handled strezz by abusing his family. I have tried not to be that way. Maybe I’ve tried too hard. I’m not aggressive enough. I don’t really go after things as hard as I could cause I don’t want to be pushy or step on toes.

How do I handle strezz? Sometimes I hit inanimate objects. When the trunk of my car slammed into my head the other day I retaliated by slamming my hand into it. Then I chose my next strezz handling option, crying. I cried all the way into the house. Then I started my next strezz handlation, denial. The next day I was over it but for a very sore head and bruises on my wrist. Denial works, sort of, it keeps everything from swallowing me up. If I really thought about everything I think I would just sink into some dark abyss and never been seen again.

My best strezz handlation (sure that’s a word!) is orgasm. In bed at night, if I’m not so tired I fall asleep before I have an orgasm, that’s where I beat strezz. None of the other options really work but strezz orgasms aren’t always available. You can’t have a strezz orgasm at work. I guess you could go into the public washroom but some part of my mind wonders about security cameras and those jerks who set up spy cameras to later sell upskirt and other (not illegal apparently) pictures on the Internet.

In the end the best time to relieve strezz for me is late at night. After I’ve dealt with email, family and work in general. It’s quiet, dark, the bed is comfortable and I’m by myself. It’s nice to be alone in the dark. No one making demands or expecting anything from me. Just me, my clit and my fingers. I don’t need anything else but now and then I add a toy, filler literally. I don’t know why it is that every now and then I just want something inside me. It doesn’t give me a better orgasm or make me orgasm any sooner. It’s just a needful thing, the odd time. Usually, I just stroke my clit. I know exactly how to do it, I have plenty of practice.

I started when I was a kid, not even a teenager. Back then I didn’t know why I did it and I stopped long before having an orgasm. It was years before I let that happen, I had no idea what it was or if I wanted it to happen. Curiousity led me to it. During one of my fantasies I just kept going past the point I usually stopped at. Those orgasms weren’t nearly as good as the ones I have now. They were ok.

These days my orgasms are long and drawn out. I think I could make it last forever, or until my fingers got too tired. I’ve found if I rub my clit very slowly right after the first barely there rush of the orgasm the thing just goes on forever, not finishing, just hanging in there till I remove my fingers. It’s good. Then, strezz released along with other things, I go to sleep. Nights when I can’t sleep I have an orgasm too. If I curl up and get comfortable right after it always works. As an added plus, on really cold nights an orgasm warms the bed up too.

My First Divorce

Originally posted to Sex Kitten (2003 – 2004)

That was when she looked at websites about disposing of bodies. Not that he was quite a body, he was still breathing after all. But… she was only curious really.

His head was heavier than expected, kind of like a really big cabbage she’d once cooked for making cabbage rolls. She had a hard time fitting it into the pot, the cabbage, not his head. Although, cooking him was an alternative under consideration.

What do you do with an extra husband after all? Once the marriage was over, he became kind of disposable, like an extra toaster after the wedding. You could always give it away, but somehow that seemed so small minded. Why saddle someone else with your spare toaster? Even more so with a used toaster, one you had cleaned up after, slept with and all that other labour and time not so well spent. Maybe, it was really more like having a sixth finger than an extra toaster. Imagine how awkward that sixth finger would be? Holding a pen would be like a wrestling match and typing would be, well… interesting. Continue reading My First Divorce

Death by Dreaming

Originally posted to Sex Kitten (2003 – 2004)

Can you die from a wet dream?

Max was cold. Calling a succubus had seemed like a good idea at the time. That was hours ago now. Lying naked on the floor, his altar of sex toys around him, waiting and yet dreading that some mythological creature would come for him. He felt like a willing victim to his own sacrifice. But, he was willing, more than willing after eleven years of celibacy. Even now, just lying naked on the cold floor, his cock was rock hard, pointing straight up and even angling back. No man in the world was more ready for sex right now than Max.

Nothing seemed to be happening though, other than his own growing arousal. There was something about preparing yourself for kinky sex that made you need it all the more. Just lying down in the midst of his altar had brought him to full arousal and kept him there. Thinking, half dreaming, of having a succubus appear and begin taking his body was almost enough to finish him off. But, he wasn’t quite there. He wanted more than his own thoughts, his own hands stroking the well known patterns over his cock. He wanted a woman, even if she wasn’t entirely real or at all predictable. Continue reading Death by Dreaming

Sometimes I Miss the Tiger I Once Knew

SherkanOnce upon a time, there was a young woman who was just dipping her toes into the social scene on the Internet. IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to be specific because these were the days before blogs and social media became something everyone knew. This young woman was pretty much one of the stereotypical nice girls. She hardly even dated because she was kind of a quiet, serious person and didn’t really talk to men. However, getting online and talking to all kinds of people from the comfort of her own home was fun, exciting even. She became an IRC diva.

This quiet, serious woman found herself made part of a group on an IRC channel. She had the feeling of belonging and having friends and she liked it. She began to flirt and play just as the others did. Back then IRC was new and talking online was a whole different game for people to learn to play. Many people were using the chat to ‘hook up’. Actually, many women were looking for romance and love and many men were looking for a good screw, with something they hoped was female.

So, this quiet, serious young woman met a lot of men online. A group of women in the IRC channel became known for trolling and taunting the men online, those who came into the channel looking for easy women. This young woman was one of the three in the group. The others were Lis and Vix, for short. They had a lot of fun baiting and switching and laughing at the horny trolls.

Then there were the other people in the group, the other regulars. Most evenings they got together and played Truth or Dare in the public channel. The serious, quiet woman had no sexual experience to play the game telling Truth about. So she took the dares, almost every time. She became smart at finding loop holes, or just storytelling her way out of it. A good time was had by all, regardless of whatever Truth or Dares were told.

There were other women in the group, but there were men in the group too. Some became friends, fairly close friends, with the quiet woman (who by this time wasn’t really all that quiet during the chat but was still fairly serious). One man in particular became a regular in the group and the serious woman liked him too. They talked, not just in the public chat.

He was married and wanted to divorce his wife. Things were not going well, she wanted out – or seemed to… You know how that story goes. In this case, the serious woman – though she really did like the man – pushed the man to stick with his marriage. She wasn’t 100% on her decision, she was kind of lonely and still single and not someone who was out there dating outside of her Internet chat ‘dates’. But, being the serious type she was, she did not think she could tell someone to end their marriage, even if she did consider it.

The man offered to come and visit the serious woman. It was a sincere offer, very unlike most offers which she heard from the horny trolls. But, she had her serious way and could not take that step into breaking up a marriage. So, time went on, they still talked and even traded home addresses to send real Christmas cards in the mail. After awhile, a year or so, the chat group broke up, as these transient sort of things will do. Someone had an issue with whoever was in control of the group and people were made to choose sides. Inside this side choosing the group dissolved.

The serious woman lost track of the man after awhile. She lost track of all her friends from the group within a couple of months to a year. She was sad about it but she had met other people and was fine.

A couple of years later she somehow found the man again. He was divorced (or separated) from his wife and living with one of the other women from the group. Not one of the two who had been her game playing friends but one of the women she had talked to in a more human to human way and had actually gotten to know a bit. Sadly, the serious woman was not one of those who saved every online conversation so the details were lost in the vast space of her mind.

The man and the woman both talked to the serious woman, and kept in touch for a short time. Then she lost track of them again as she so often does.

People will sometimes ask if you have regrets. I say no, not really. You can’t go back and change things anyway, so what is the point of thinking of anything you regret. However, when I think about it, I do regret not being a little bolder, thinking more about myself than the other woman and what was right and proper in a by-the-book way.

So the moral of the story… don’t try to live by rigid standards which you didn’t set for yourself.

Floaty Pen with a Naked Man

You may have noticed a floaty pen once or more. They are sold as promotional items for events, stores, tourist attractions, etc.

There are floaty pens with women, nude once you tilt the pen and their skirt or dress floats up and away. A floaty pen with a nude man is more interesting to me. Not because I especially want to see a naked man. (This is the Internet – I can easily view naked men). It’s interesting because sex novelty items were far more likely to show women undressed or scantily clad than men.

floaty penFound on eBay.

Read more about floaty pens.

See more floaty pens on Flickr.