Personal/Life Processes, continued
Fuses and ABC take the direct experiences of Schneemann, exposing the personal elements of her life at those moments, emotionally, physically and sexually. Scott MacDonald realized the difficult nature of doing this kind of work in a culture and art world where heterosexual men often control the dominant aesthetic values. "In a culture where men still tend to be trained to deny their emotions, the assumption that the making of 'serious' art must involve a position of detachment mitigates in the direction of art produced by males."18 Schneemann counters this problematic by revealing a female subjectivity through positing herself as both subject and object:
Relating lived experiences through the body and mind as a united force is a common aspect to both artists' work. Murray-Wassink's bodily and intellectual experiences form the basis for his artistic practice:
I'm Proud of Myself (1996) marks the beginning of a trajectory of works addressing the artist coming to terms with his identity as a gay man. In this work, he places professional photographs of himself on a coffee table taken at a moment in time when he flirted with the idea of pursuing modeling to finance his art.20 Autobiography is an important aspect for Murray-Wassink's work as it was for so many feminist artists on a wider scale in the 1970s. Feminist art of this period is a body of work that he continually researches for himself. The personal processes of life enter more directly in the performance-based work Sands Murray's Personal Artistic Business (1997). Shown at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, the artist set up shop to initiate discussions on anything including: etiquette, skin care, food, art and the art world. On exhibit were recorded conversations and his diary, which includes meetings with fellow artists, curators, museum professionals and friends. As part of this project, he had letterhead produced on which he then wrote statements such as "My sexiness lies in my self-respect" in various colored markers. A related performance-based and documented project took place the following year, Sands Murray Meets Dianne Brill. Interested from a young age in fashion, he learned of Brill through her modeling and nightclub life. Exhibited at the Vienna Secession show Young Scene in 1998, the installation documents the impending meeting through correspondence and then their time spent together in Munich visiting Prada, Tiffany's and cafes on video.21 These performance works act as recordings of life experiences but at the same time enter themselves into the very process of living.
A different approach to the personal enters in a subtler manner with SJHDMW (1998-2001). The small painting is formed with rich colors, dynamic in the movement of brushwork, as the SJHDMW appears to float across the surface. The piece constitutes a formal announcement of changing his name after marrying Robin Wassink to Sands Joseph Horwitz Dijks Murray Wassink. Acknowledging the female lineage of his family, he took Horwitz, his mother's maiden name. He adds his husband's name, Wassink, as well as his mother-in-law's maiden name Dijks. Analogous to feminist concerns, he seeks ways to acknowledge his female lineage. The maiden name has come to embody a special meaning in the United States as the code word given to credit card companies, a secret password ensuring you are who you say you are. Different from many women who have chosen not to change their names (and identities), once married Murray-Wassink and his husband changed theirs by adding the other's name to their own. In the context of Sands and his Dutch husband Robin, they are a gay married couple who want to celebrate their union and Dutch society's acceptance and blessing of non-traditional relationships, in an act impeding patriarchal standards.
Several of Murray-Wassink's works speak to gay men and lesbians in a search for a world order inclusive of all sexualities.
A related painting, Gay Male Brain/Gay Mannelijke Hersens (2000), indicates the artist's concern with the brain and hormonal processes and influences. The surface includes text such as "homosexuals do not be sad" and references guilt and courage in being who you are.
Like Schneemann, his marginalized experiences both intellectually and physically shape and inform his work.
images, text and graphics on the artwomen.org website