Hi, my name is Janiva Ellis and I’m going to be speaking about the painting Doubt Guardian 2. With this piece I was trying to process ideas surrounding external doubt and self-doubt at the same time. And how they inform one another. And how it can be cyclical and how it can be in a loop. And how you can end up affirming things that are false about yourself because of indoctrinated self-belief. I guess I’m trying to render what things feel like for myself. So that I can look at them because I, as a painter, process things visually, so a lot of it is for myself. So I can look at these things and kind of see them objectified. The work that I’ve contributed to this particular show is set in a lot of pastoral environments and I was really, ultimately interested in ideas of chaos and mayhem in serene environments and kind of the puncture of that ambiance.
I really like painting as a mechanism to have these conversations because I feel like it employs the same decisive methods that we use to interpret others and to racially categorize and culturally categorize. There’s a placement that happens, there’s a decision that happens, and there’s an ascribing that happens. And those things can feel really arbitrary and can feel really flat and I think painting reaches for the depth in that flatness.
Something else that streams through my work and that is important to these pieces that I’ve contributed is that the translations of pain and tension and empathy be translated through a dialogue of humor, an expanding dialogue of humor, in a way that enables engaging these ideas to be a little more fluid and a little more digestible. I feel like the intensity of what we believe in connection with ourselves often times becomes a melodrama and if we seize the pocket that’s formed playfully it can actually be used and expanded on.
Audio guide recorded on the occasion of “2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.”