My name is Aimée McCallum and I am a queer, multidisciplinary artist with the main media of performance and installation. I graduated from the University of Cumbria in 2019 with a first in BA (Hons) Fine Art, and I am a life model. My practice explores an alien sex utopia to playfully challenge the concepts of queer identity. The utopia uses a kitsch, cartoon aesthetic to create an approachable artwork to question the patriarchal and heteronormative view of society.
Soft Cock and the Intimate World (2019), a performance and installation space which explores the themes discussed above, and a lack of hierarchy between performers and the audience, by having the performers perform for an extended amount of time with repeated acts. These repeated acts are influenced by Judith Butlers theory on gender performance, as well as Bertolt Brecht’s ‘gestus’ technique, the idea of focusing in on certain social gestures. By lowering the “stage” to the same level as the audience this begins to break the invisible barrier between audience and performer. To enhance the reality of the character in their environment my performances always begin before the audience arrives and end before the audience leaves which allows them to feel comfortable to further explore the performance space.
The characters’ ‘fun sexuality’, which I define as the pleasure of the soft touch, and feelings before the climax is portrayed through seamlessly flowing between playing games and sexual acts. They naively explore their bodies and their world which emphasises the cartoon aesthetic of the utopia, questioning the taboo of children’s knowledge of sex. Although the environment is inviting and playful the sexual nature of the performance creates and uncertainty and discomfort.
My practice is heavily influenced by mythology, and the theories of Sigmund Freud. The main influence of my most recent projects has been the ‘Vagina Dentata’, the toothed vagina. The Polynesians said, the god Maui tried to return to his mother, Hina’s womb through the vagina or mouth to find immortality but was bit in half, and killed. This invokes Freudian ideas of “mouth-symbolism” bringing in ideas of consumption of masculinity, and creates a satire of the patriarchy. Freud had an extreme view of castration being the whole penis being removed but in fact it is usually just the testacies. This and Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Series influenced the lack of or not fully grown testacies and emphasises the naivety and the character’s lack of lust. The movement and fluid visual language of the characters is influenced by Judith Butler’s theories on gender performance not being static but a never-ending repetitive act. Butler also suggests that gender performance is spontaneously created but restricted by societal expectations, which influenced the use of structural improvisation to allow the individual performer to interpret the vague instructions into their own movements and create a new performance every time.