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Conversation between Caitlin Rose Sweet and Olivia Ramos.

 

Caitlin Rose Sweet

Snake In The Grass, 2016

Installation

SWEET:  ‪Hi‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪hi - so happy we made this work‬‬

 

thank you for joining us

 

Totally‬‬

 

Thanks for inviting me.

 

‪i am looking at your website‬‬

 

and trying to figure out where to start

 

i remember reading about you in an article that compare you to Hieronymus Bosch

 

i think it was in the Huffington Post

 

Snake in the Grass which was my solo show that opened in March‬‬

 

‪I was really lucky I got some good press. There was that article, Paper Mag, and Creators Project‬‬

 

yeah i remember the paper mag article talking about queerness‬‬

 

so queerness and Hieronymus Bosch

 

My root and artistic process is deeply rooted in queerness‬‬

 

‪what does that mean exactly?‬‬

 

‪Well I'm queer. I have for years lived in radical queer communities, bubbles, and houses.

 

I have organized queer art shows.

 

My work is about queerness.‬‬

 

‪I want to make space that speaks to queer people and also function as a place for people to encounter queerness.

 

I think of my installations as habitats‬‬

 

I feel like I'm out of the loop here - i've had countless of conversations about "queerness" but i can't seem to really grasp what it means.‬‬

 

what makes a person queer?

 

‪Lol‬‬

 

Well I think being a queer person and talking about queerness Is different things

 

There is the material reality of being a queer person, there is queer culture, queer theory, and queerness at large in the world.

 

how do i know if i'm a queer person or not?‬‬

 

‪‬‬Um well that varies from person to person

 

I'm a cisgender woman who dates queer people of a variety of genders and sexualities‬‬

 

cisgender‬‬

 

i've never heard that term

 

Cisgender= I am a female assigned at birth person who identifies as a woman. I am not a trans person.‬‬

 

‪you are as you were born‬‬

 

i still don't fully understand what queer is but maybe that's ok

 

Sure that's one way of looking at it‬‬

 

‪i'll move on and hope that one day i'll get it‬‬

 

so the Hieronymus Bosch comparison - did that come from you?

 

I have been a Bosch fan for years. It was an instinctive decision to make a piece about Garden of Earthly Delights‬‬

 

‪ohh i see - I always make sure to visit that piece when I am in Madrid‬‬

 

I would love to see it in person. For me it's interesting because I think it not in the terms of a painting but it feels more like an object to me.‬‬

 

well it encompasses a great deal of humanity‬‬

 

so it is like holding a body in a way - that represents all that we are

but you actually made it into an object

 

There's some interesting moments in it that has vessels in it.‬‬

 

There is so much about containment and the failure of that.

 

‪there's also a distortion or deformation that's very clear in both Bosch's projection of humanity and the vessels you made‬‬

 

‪I like to think of it more as transformation than deformation.‬‬

 

‪i guess transformation is more positive‬‬

 

but for me Bosch is more about distortion

 

Having a body is such a heavy thing. So complicated. So messy. So amazing. Bosch's figures speak to that for me.‬‬

 

It's funny I never find his figures disturbing. The hell panel is soothing to me.

 

when i think of messy bodies and the weight of them and the complications i think more of Francis Bacon‬‬

 

And funny! Like he really had a thing about butts!!!‬‬

 

‪for me Bosch is more about the psyche‬‬

 

the distorted mind

 

the illusion

 

‪and yes butts have everything to do with that

 

True. But bacon is generally about a single figure. Bosch is a systems of bodies.‬‬

 

‬‬i can see that - but i also see Bosch's piece as if it was one person and their many mental states

 

I can see that. For me it feels really different which what I like about art, everyone has such different relationships to single work. I see it as this dense ecology of people being together and how that feels. It can feel really good or really bad.‬‬

 

‪yeah - and good and bad is relative which is also reflected there‬‬

so tell me about your latest show

 

Snake in the Grass

 

Well it was an installation that was divided into 3 sections, it was all textiles and ceramics. It was my response piece to garden of earthly delights.‬‬

 

‪glad we talked about the garden first then‬‬

 

how was it a response?

 

It was me thinking and making through the themes that the painting talked about. It gave me a frame work and focus for the show.‬‬

 

My main subject matter of my work is about having a body, what it means, how it feels, and how it fails. I'm interested in how queer desire crafts different understandings of what a body can and should do.‬‬

 

Though I love Bosch there were things that I wanted to explore and twist into new meanings.

 

why do you think you have a body?‬‬

 

‪I have no clue! Why do we have bodies? The human struggle. As a queer person I live in a culture who has some really set ideas of what makes a valuable body, in some ways my queerness makes me less valuable. Same with being a woman. I'm defined by lack.

 

So my work is about exposing what I think is bullshit ideas about bodies.‬‬

 

queerness and woman makes you less valuable?‬‬

 

the body of a woman is the most magical thing - it makes life itself

 

how can you say that?

 

Well I don't think that women are less valuable nor do I think my value is based on one of the functions one of my organs does. I'm saying that in the ruling culture of patriarchy that women are treated as less.

 

Like no equal pay...‬‬

 

‪i see‬‬

 

i'm not sure i understand what the ruling culture is - what do they rule?

 

Um you know like mainstream culture‬‬

 

The government

 

‪i'm not sure if the government is a culture - but mainstream culture is only alive for those who look at it‬‬

 

i don't feel victimized by mainstream culture

 

do you?

 

I think it's pretty offensive and actually hurts people.‬‬

 

‪i don't want to deny that - but don't you think those hurt by it are those who want to be a part of it?‬‬

 

No‬‬

 

you can only hurt me if i let you - no?‬‬

 

‪No‬‬

 

Oppression exists and its violent. It's unavoidable

 

‪i am in gratitude that today i don't feel oppressed - and i was born in a country that had political oppression and in contrast mainstream oppression just don't feel like much to me - today, maybe not as a teenager - just today‬‬

 

i am not totally blind or ignorant and can see the effects of it in younger generations

 

Oppression takes many forms. Sometimes it's the government and sometimes it's been treated like shit everyday because you are different.‬‬

 

‪yes i understand - maybe not in the same way you do - there are prejudice against me and it hurt but i try to have a strong practice of compassion and forgiveness‬‬

 

i try to think of it as their problem not mine

 

and that gives me a lot of freedom

 

‪I guess that's one approach, im a pretty free person. But I see a lot harm being done and I'm not into using my energy to forgive but more into tending to those who are getting injured. Emotionally and physically‬‬