This is the cougar you were looking for.
This past week, I had the absolute pleasure to attend Phil Hoffman’s Film Farm which is just outside of Mount Forest, Ontario. I met lots of amazing artists and had an absolute blast. Here, filmmakers shoot, hand process, and edit 16mm film. I make videos, and this was my first time using film. It exceeded my expectations in every way, and I hope to continue with it in my practice.
Naturally, Film Farm provided a great opportunity to talk about cougars. At first, I debated not saying anything about the project, and just seeing what would happen, if anyone would notice, care, or comment about my 100% daily wearing of animal print, or as I like to call it, sporting cougar skin. But once we all met, talked about what we do, what we make, and how we work, this seemed unfair and dishonest somehow. How could I out myself as a performance artist in the get-to-know-me introductions, and then not talk about performing cougar while wearing head-to-toe leopard print?
One of the things that keeps coming up about this project that I hadn’t anticipated is it’s relationship to consumerism: it seems like I am always shopping. I know, I know, this may be obvious to you, but it really wasn’t to me when I started, but man, am I aware of it now. I do try to buy second hand or sale items, and people have been very generous with donations and gifts. Danette MaKay and Rebecca Emlaw at Arterie Boutique & Friperie in Montreal gave me this bathing suit pictured above. Isn’t it a stunner?
Anyway, I was super excited to go to Film Farm, and talked about it to friends like I was going off to camp. I threw this suit in at the last minute, even though the insecure inner camper part of me couldn’t imagine wearing it as it really does facilitate letting it all hang out, quite literally. But then the joke-telling, feminist performance artist side of me said, “Dude. The bikini top attaches to the bikini bottom with a cougar anchor. Put on the suit.”
This cultural evaluation of female bodies, body image, and constant judgement of what we look like, especially in context of women over-40, is at the heart of this project.
So put on the suit.
By using my own body, I hope to confront and examine the paradoxical reflection of a mediatized social mirror that catches all women over-40 in its glass as the (un)desired subject.
Put on the fucking suit.
With this project, I hope to push the punchline of this older-lady-as-sexualized-object joke where I can take control of it, tell it, and ultimately steer it, and be the cougar you are looking for.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, Cougar.