Josephine Chime’s latest exhibition explores the narcissism of online self-branding in a series of self-portraits and sculptures that challenge the warped ideals projected onto society. Ahead of the opening at The Trampery, we caught up with the Hackney-based artist to talk social media, the selfie-crazed generation and what is it about larger women that makes them such intriguing subjects.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START DRAWING AND WORKING WITH COLLAGE?
As long as I have had weird moments in my life, so a very long time. Cutting and drawing to slowly build part of an image has been my therapy.
YOU HAVE A DISTINCTIVE AESTHETIC, WERE YOU INFLUENCED BY ANY STYLE/ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?
For my new show I was drawn to the works of Lorna Simpson and her monochrome photography commenting on society’s relationship with ethnicity and sex. I’ve always been influenced by the spirit of people, their bodies and how they carry themselves. What makes a person think ‘screw it I’m going to show the realities of my body, I’m going to learn to accept myself?’ This ultimately feeds into my work and is expressed through the lines and marks I create.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK IN?
Dipping pen and ink is my go-to medium, the process is meditative. No need for large spaces or a long setup, I revel in spending days on one piece, indulging in drawing the tiny details of the skin until I go cross-eyed.
IN A DIGITAL AGE, IS IT IMPORTANT TO PRESERVE TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES?
Reality is number one, holding onto something tangible will always be my preference whether it’s a vinyl cover or a beautiful handmade book. Teaching your hands how to realise what is in your mind is a time honoured craft, I don’t want to always rely on computers to create what is in my mind. The human energy in handmade artifacts has an honesty that can’t be replicated.
SOME OF YOUR RECENT PROJECTS HAVE FOCUSED ON FEATURING LARGER WOMEN, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE LARGER FEMALE FORM THAT MAKES SUCH AN INTRIGUING SUBJECT?
There are a few reasons why I focus on larger women. Initially I was taken in by their spirit to display overt largeness and appear not to care what others think. I saw their bodies as sculpture and heightened projections of their personalities. I took to creating large exaggerated female forms to produce the narrative of unveiling the natural self and relishing on holding onto more skin, fat, stretchmarks, bumps – all of the aspects of our shell that is airbrushed from mainstream media. Now the larger woman in question is myself.
IS THERE A DIRECT MESSAGE YOU WANT THE EXHIBITION TO COMMUNICATE?
My exhibition ‘Textured To Touch’ is a progression from reinterpreting the aesthetics of fat feeder sites, to instead focusing on deconstructing my image. It’s best for the viewer to perceive their own message from my work, nevertheless I want to encourage the dialogue on what is considered beautiful.
YOUR WORK CHALLENGES THE WARPED IDEALS PROJECTED ONTO SOCIETY – DO YOU THINK IT IS POSSIBLE TO CHANGE SOCIETY’S PERCEPTION OF WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL? IF SO, HOW?
To change society’s idea of what is beautiful would take an intense orchestrated effort which would take years in the process. Blogs and alternative media is an effective avenue to show diverse aesthetics of beauty. On the ground level workshops, personal development lessons at school and mentoring are effective ways to engage with the youth who tend to feel the pressure of following an image doctrine.
DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING AN EGOCENTRIC SOCIETY?
How many times am I going to see a person take multiple selfies with that pout, how many different ways can you pout into your phone? The internet allows people to create a image that may be far removed from who they really are. They are creating an avatar, others are hell bent on forging a brand in cyber reality with nothing to market or promote but themselves. It’s a great time to be successful by being mediocre.
WHAT DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR?
I get slightly weary of the eyes down twitching, swipey finger syndrome people acquire on their smart phone, so consciously I only go on social media when sharing my creative projects or if I want a mini rant. The ranting hasn’t happened in a while.There are so many forms of social media it’s hard to keep up. There have been people who have offered me projects via Facebook – quite exasperating, what’s wrong with a good old email?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SELFIE-CRAZED GENERATION?
It’s the generation of me, me inc, me ltd, me & co, me enterprises and me myself and I. People will start to self combust with all the extreme selfie taking. If people took less time doing selfies and engaged with their friends more and the non cyber reality friends had meaningful conversations, considerably less people would be anxious, depressed or obsessed about what other people think of them. The bubble will burst, because social media is trend mad, the next hot thing could be not taking a photo of yourself and become a mystique like Martin Margiela – that would be refreshing.
Josephine Chime: Textured To Touch runs until May 2nd.
Click here to visit Josephine’s website.