Beauty Debate: Elle Deadsexicon
TheDetroiter: What is your process?
Elle: I work in a free-flow manner while meditation on the human condition. I listen and learn through my work, attempting to expand my own human intellect by channelling the powers available. I press the limits of my own imagination and creation so that the work fluidly relates spirituality, afterlife, and questions what makes us human.
TheDetroiter: What is the definition of beauty?
Elle: Beauty is an abstract term which is absolutely relative to one’s own cultural parameters; it differs for each individual depending on their environment. Different groups of peoples and different ethnicities have their own ideas of beauty. Certain groups of people or tribes around the world are exceptional examples of how, when isolated, tribes of people will create, construct, and expand upon their own ideas of beauty, flourishing until it morphs to an unrecognizable form. This is particularly notable when the influence of outside groups is negated. Take for example the Karen tribes of the Thai-Burmese/Myanmar border who’s women wear brass rings around their neck until the neck itself is severely elongated, or the tradition of the Maori warrior in New Zealand who covers his face with tattoos, or that of the Dogon tribe of Mali who’s tradition dictates that they pierce their lips. The most outstanding thing about beauty is that a deeply sought after “beauty” for one group of people would would be incredibly unappealing to another. Take the binding of Japanese women’s feet for example. Beauty evolves and resolutes in the most fascinating of ways; with speed and eloquence. Outstandingly, each individual within any culturally coherent group of people is able to define their own concept of beauty and expand upon that, so that within each society the idea of Beauty is in constant evolution.
TheDetroiter: Can there be a universal beauty?
Elle: I believe so, but perhaps it is invisible?
TheDetroiter: Is the phrase “all beauty is subjective” a cop out?
Elle: Not at all. What is beauty? It is entirely up to the viewer to determine. I, for one, am seduced by beauty, but I imagine that the most incredibly beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes upon wouldn’t even slightly arouse another.
TheDetroiter: Do you consciously think about beauty when you create?
Elle: Yes, but in the manner of the beauty of the human spirit and how that permeates the figures to reveal the beauty of the individual.
TheDetroiter: Should artists strive for beauty?
Elle: Not necessarily.
TheDetroiter: Are beauty and truth the same?
Elle: Depending on what truth we are talking about here; Art has had its role, exemplarily in Western Europe with Catholicism, representing and promoting the truth (religious ideologies). “In the Renaissance, an increasing emphasis on experience, artistic expression, and individual achievement and sensual first step toward a higher consciousness” (Townsend, Aesthetics). The function of art has changed. Art is no longer a crusade instrument but that of personal expression. Art reflects the truth of the individual or one’s state of mind. Colors might represent emotion. The use of soft and fluid lines verses sharp and jagged might represent a feeling. These combinations of form and color might represent one’s reality. Perhaps the artist is channeling a greater idea? Perhaps the artist is portraying a shared human emotion or reflecting a thought in our collective consciousness? Art is still able to tell a story. We are all unified by the same past and human condition. George Lucas was greatly influenced by Joseph Campbell’s ideas on mythology and human tradition, the unification of spirituality and human history. This is where Star Wars was conceived. Here the story of the human condition is told through art. Is this truth?
TheDetroiter: Does beauty relate to the sublime?
Elle: If we’re speaking of the quality of greatness of a thing, of spirit or artistic process, then yes I believe beauty has the potential to relate to the sublime.
TheDetroiter: Is there an overarching rejection of beauty in contemporary art criticism?
Elle: I don’t believe that the contemporary art world cares much for beauty simply for the sake of beauty. Are we talking here of the beauty of intellect and potential or the pure simple beauty and form of an object? I think the first is much more amiable to contemporary art ideology.
TheDetroiter: Should there be skepticism towards concepts of beauty?
Elle: Of course. Who decides what beauty is? Who implies that things aren’t beautiful? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Mirror mirror on the wall…
TheDetroiter: Do contemporary prejudices about physical beauty go against concepts of feminism? Concepts of masculinity?
Elle: Without getting into the discussion of what contemporary prejudices about physical beauty might be… beauty is and should be applicable to female, male, ze, and everything between. Contemporary counter culture does a wonderful job of beautifying those people and things that would be shunned by common culture. Take for example these gender bending stars: David Bowie, Coco Rosie, Antony and the Johnsons, Don Pablo Pedro, Judith Supine, Cindy Sherman…
TheDetroiter: How have your thoughts of beauty changed during your lifetime?
Elle: Like stained glass over the centuries.
TheDetroiter: Any other thoughts on the topic?
Elle: The way people portray themselves or make themselves appear “beautiful” is fascinating. How we adorn our clothes and faces and bodies with makeup, tattoos, clothing, feathers and fabric, in an attempt to beautify… we all strive for the perfection of the incredible peacock or the porcelain doll. It is human nature to adorn our bodies, dress up, collect trinkets, beautify. It is incredible to me that the most progressive people go through this cycle, purging themselves of these material beautifying tools, and then are able to move on to beautifying the mind and the soul. The extension of their inner selves is reached when they are able to reach beyond their self and beautify the world around them. This is where the true beauty lies… perhaps the real question is how many lifetimes does it take to reach?