Artist Statement

Our relationship to sex and sexual identity has changed with the presence of digital devices and spaces. I am particularly interested in consent in a digital age. My work is about finding a space for sexual desire and intimacy after sexual trauma. It is not a single narrative; it is an allegory of women’s sexuality in contemporary digital society, how we exploit and police these individuals, and women’s girlhood being shamed and manipulated into a projection of sexual conditioning under digital patriarchy. While the figures in the work are unmistakably grown women, there is a shameless correlation to the playfulness and vulnerability of girlhood. In a patriarchal society, girls are often sexualized before they can choose to explore sexuality in relation to their own pleasure. I am interested in bringing the intangible cyber universes into the physical realm though painting, drawing, and constructed environments. This crafted space defies norms and binary systems while also acting as a safe space for sexual beings to flourish in, like the cyber space.

This work often depicts women engaging in queer sexual acts, a visual reorientation of a contemporary sexuality informed by digital spaces and devices, one that comes after sexual trauma transforming into an affirmative feminine sexuality. Negotiations of intimacy are a way we can acquire agency. I am manipulating the patriarchal projection into an autonomous performance of sexual identity. I am appropriating images of pornography made for the consumption of patriarchal desire into a fantastical safe space. I do this by elevating an action such as masturbation, which highlights the shame and fetishism of the hyper-sexualization of female bodies. While this act is fetishized in digital culture, in the work it is honored and respected as the most honest and vulnerable exchange of intimacy. This act is the visual reorientation of a tenderness to exist with emotional and physical autonomy. Positive practices such as masturbation or celebratory views of sexual identity can still cause emotional distress. This work uses motifs to talk about a positive relationship with queer sexual identity with interruptions of intrusive or triggering thoughts.

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© Megan Elaine Wirick. 2020.