AMBER   HAWK   SWANSON
"Untitled Fucking"
Artist Statement

Untitled Fucking (2013) stages a queer intercourse between sex acts and speech acts. Bringing together elements of Xandra Ibarra and Amber Hawk Swanson’s respective performance personas, this collaborative work probes the fraught seam between saying and doing that sutures not only political questions of identity and embodiment, but also deeper concepts of representation and performance, of surrogate and self.

In this 15-minute video, Ibarra and Hawk Swanson perform on a bed facing the camera. Ibarra—wearing cucaracha pasties and a strap-on dildo with a bottle of Tapatio Mexican hot sauce as a phallus—penetrates Hawk Swanson from behind, while Hawk Swanson looks into the camera and repeats: “Feminism? That’s deep. I think I need a minute to think about that, so ... I don’t know.” The sexual posture and repeated line reference an earlier piece by Hawk Swanson entitled That’s Deep from the Feminism? Project (2005-2006): one of a series of ten videos wherein she participates in different sexual and erotic encounters while ventriloquizing various responses from women living in her home state of Iowa—including her former sorority sisters and own mother—on the subject of feminism. Ibarra’s performance with pasties and strap-on reference her neo-burlesque persona La Chica Boom: a Mexi-sexy minstrel who, through self-consciously politicized spectacles—or “spictacles”—challenges not only the racist patriarchal gaze that objectifies and exoticizes brown bodies, but also the white feminist discourse that renders bodies of color consumable and feminism of color illegible.

By staging a sexual encounter between two artists, Untitled Fucking brings into contact two queer feminist art practices concerned with questions of representation and performance. From the Feminism? Project to her ongoing Amber Doll Project (2006-present)—a series of performances with a life-like sex doll made in her likeness—Hawk Swanson’s work troubles the slippage between subject and object that haunts feminist theory, asking not only who or what is authorized to speak or act, but also what queer feminist speech, acts, and relations are possible in the different performances of these positions. From the “spictacles” to her more recent FML [Fuck My Life] (2012; 2013), Ibarra has engaged burlesque performance to explore how a racist and sexist discourse renders some bodies already spoken for. Her work considers how we might interrupt and “fuck” that speech through a perverse racist manipulation of racist tropes: through pasties that turn xenophobic fears of immigrants “spreading like roaches” into an illicit adornment; and through sex with a strap-on that re-appropriates a consumable “ethnic” product in ways that literally penetrate whiteness and femininity.

Through queer sexual vocabulary of topping, bottoming, and “bottoming out,” Untitled Fucking is a collaboration that stages the deep and complicated interplay between the performance of white feminism and the feminisms of color that whiteness excludes. The piece also poses a collective challenge to the systems of representation that discipline the notion of political “voice.” Working in the erotic interplay between saying and doing, Hawk Swanson and Ibarra rehearse the queer and feminist contradictions that arise when explicit sex and performance collide, directing us towards the untitled and yet to be articulated horizons of political possibility.