Izzi Selfe is a third year Contemporary Art student exploring notions of abjection, performance and queer identities through their rich studio practice. Izzi uses a magnitude of camp materials with their favourite spot to source being Costume Land. I was lucky enough to have a chat to them in order to gain a thorough insight into the red and defiant world their practice flourishes within, that being the seventh floor of the Dorrit Black building.
Interview by Miriam Sims
So great to be here in your studio this morning Izzi; we are surrounded by all kinds of captivating objects! Could you tell me a little bit about your studio practice and how these objects came into your life?
Well, on the most part, it surrounds themes of gender identity, gender performativity, the trans body, all in conjunction with the abject and abjection, and how those things kind of fit together as one overarching view of the world. [Also] how these ideas are constructed within society.
What do you think about everyday notions of gender and everyday objects, how do you bring these things into your practice?
There’s lots of gendered objects in the world and everything everywhere is gendered. It’s one of the most powerful structures in which we hold social systems and regulations of all sorts. And, you know, that’s something we all have to live within and navigate, but it also conditions a lot of our existence. Gendered objects and gender in society affects lots of people who don’t conform so easily, or it restricts expression through reinforcement of the gender binary or having… the other word I’m thinking of now… it forces people to… RESIST, yes resistance.
Resistance seems to be a common theme in your work. In the material you use, there’s a lot of tension and performative actions with literal physical resistance but then also there’s this overarching idea of queer resistance. I think of the idiom of respecting existence or expecting resistance; what are your thoughts on this?
Yeah, no, I definitely agree with you and I think about existence a lot. I kind of retracted from saying that for a bit there because I felt like it was reducing my work’s bigger meaning, or it didn’t encompass the whole idea of embodiment I am wishing to convey in my work. However, I have come back to it recently, the whole idea of just existing, living, and how we exist within ourselves, and […] within the world and how important, but also, how simulated that can be and how different it is for everybody. I think resistance is a big part of my work, it’s a necessity [that] just lives underneath all my ideas – that idea of resistance.
Gendered objects and gender in society affects lots of people who don’t conform so easily
Do you think that you would naturally perform this much if you were not an artist? Do you think that we are all performance artists?
I believe, to an extent, everyone is a performance artist. I think that everyone performs, one way or another. There’s always an element of performance. Gender performativity, for example, is that whole idea that we have to repeat something over and over again and ingrain it into our everyday life in order to present, or to create a sense of identity.
I guess that goes into theories around gender performativity that Judith Butler has. How do you feel about translating theoretical ideas or ideas that we discuss at our school into a real tangible video on performance that a larger audience can understand?
That is something I am questioning a lot lately. It is something that I think needs to be questioned a little bit more. I think I draw from my own experience, mostly, I draw from my own relationship to objects and material things and in performance and video I try to emulate how I feel about certain things through those notions of theory.
I find your work fairly accessible. For example, you have an excellent Instagram account and operate on the internet as a performance artist, and the theory runs underneath as if it is so paramount to your personal experience. Where can we find your work, to see how your ideas evolve?
You can find bits and bobs on my Instagram, which is titled @untitledizzi. Oddly enough, that’s a bit funny. I just post all sorts of random bits and bobs on there. Sometimes it’s three pictures of myself in a row, just because I feel like it, and other times it’s colours, materials, shadows, objects, my friends. But there’s no sort of continuity within it, just kind of the existence. It’s a document of existence and art, [an] experiment that keeps on going. It all just encompasses my life and myself as a whole. There’s not really any detachment from anything I do. It all happens together in an ecosystem.