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.
This is the exact opposite face I should be making at Phil Hoffman‘s Film Farm because it was a fantastically amazing week. I’m not a smoker, and for some reason, if I get my picture taken with one, I start to channel bad-boy B-movie characters from the 50s, and this face happens. And then there’s the ballz.
Leslie Supnet and I went to I’m Soooooo Bad, the adult shop in Mount Forest and Leslie spotted this tailgater for me because a few nights before, I was talking about the original idea for Teabagging & Other Beauty Secrets that I never performed but might now have to, in which a giant scrotum soft sculpture acting as a video screen would slowly descend from the ceiling so that it would rest lightly on my head and on it would be a video projection of a real-life scrotum and I would talk about how straight girls could use their boyfriends as home-beauty kits and wax the soft tender skin of their boyfriend’s scrotum as part of a beauty regimen to get rid of crows feet, puffy eyes, and dark circles through the fine art of teabagging. Although this idea tested quite well amongst the gays, it did not fair as well at parties with straight couples. It often resulted in men crossing their legs in imagined pain, and for some, it became uncomfortably clear that there was no lawn maintenance being done by the man, and ‘should there be’, and ‘is this normal’, and ‘honey, did you want me to trim up’, and ‘we are so out of the loop’, and ‘I had no idea as I’ve only had one partner’, and ‘do people really do this’ and I thought to myself, Dayna, you’re such a jerk for bringing this up, and I never made it. There was also the bloody scrotum factor that could potentially happen with waxing that may perhaps be considered TMI and so I made a viewer friendly Tupperware party version with an amazingly talented group of Montreal actresses instead. But the ballz may need to come back- we may not have seen the last of them. Stay tuned…
Gabrielle Brady took this picture. Thanks Gabrielle!
Leslie Supnet and I went to I’m Soooooo Bad, the adult shop in Mount Forest while on a sundries run from the film farm. Leslie spotted this gem, “The Tuggie”. Thanks Leslie!