Puppets: Red & Gold

Categories: Self-Censorship as Personality (May 2017)

Created: 23rd January 2018

An Abstract Regarding Self-censorship and Victimhood in Art Practice

[Presented at the Decolonising Art Practice: Self-Censorship and Criticality key event at Chelsea College of Arts, 15th May 2017]

Self-censorship, or rather, criticality of your own linguistic behaviours, is not just a confidence killer inherited from my mother. It can operate as a means of critiquing the powers that speak through you (including my mother). Resistance to your internal instinctual logic is essential. We are tools of others, and the languages we inherit are not inherited in an entirely ego-survivalist manner. These languages are often not intended to benefit an evolution of knowledge but line the pockets of others. The means of externally manipulating our internal voices are perpetually consolidated by those who seek power. Think of the many ownership of language issues: Resistance to access to literacy by the church or state, translators of the bible burnt as heretics, native languages suppressed or overwritten, rising fees for education and the automation of Internet comment moderation.

Language defines our individuality. It genders our clothing and mannerisms, puts a value on our position in society, feeds us information on what is funny, clever, worth buying, how to eat, behave in public, behave in private, how to emotionally or sexually relate to others and even creates the categories that these are judged by. When we accept that this powerful human technology exerts a massive force on our behaviour we must ask ourselves how we can, sometimes, resist it.

Resistance is an important part of protest in collective thought. We are constantly bombarded in our day-to-day academic life by opportunities to discuss or enact resistance with others. These political acts vary in their intention or effectivity, and any criticism of these group behaviours must be dealt with case by case and at another time. But what remains important is the relationship you are able to deform with your internal voices, the ways in which you can mess with the monologue to act freely. Free expression is not as simple as a lack of inhibition and does not materialise at the removal of self-censorship. Self-censorship is an important tool of the individual and must be targeted with insight to allow a voice of dysmorphic difference to occur. In other words, we must always resist the urge to be free, as freedom is the progeny of the few and is always offered to us tethered and at a price.

The status of abused individuality is a method of resistance. This is different to the empowerment of the individual, where the marginalised cultivate alternate currencies. Alternate currencies are still methods of value, and will serve to enforce the competition of hierarchical power, the one you can’t win. By calling out our status of victimhood without a progressive solution, we can create lumps of resistance of ourselves that cannot be manipulated for gain.

Within your art practice, it is important to censor the self through criticality, to hinder the working process and prevent the easing of the journey for external languages of power. You will work slower, and you will produce less, but at least nothing you do will make any sense.


The Economist, Language and technology: Voicing concerns, 16th July 2012

Categories: Art in a Technocracy | Notes | Self-Censorship as Personality (May 2017) | Written

Created: 16th May 2017
Edited: 11th December 2018

Self-Censorship as Personality [2017]

[Margaret Thomas performing Part 1: Nematodes in the Canteen at the Decolonising Art Practice: Self-Censorship and Criticality key event at Chelsea College of Arts, 15th May 2017]

Self-Censorship as Personality
Part 1: Nematodes in the Canteen

“And I said, after I’d got mine, that at the heart of it, censorship is displacement. Particularly self-censorship.”

“Are you up next? Yes, displacement. Of our fears or values?”

“I was thinking, more a displacement of purpose. Or value perhaps.”

“Self-censorship as a term is so dated.”

“Definitely. Censorship as a word. It feels like brown and orange VHS, and Soviet marker-pens taken to printed text. It’s a poor term for what constitutes a powerless will in some ontological landscape.”

“Conscious self-censorship is just old-fashioned fear, or stupidity.”

“Yes, more pitiful than malicious, a conceit of individual over-valuation. A more relevant self-censorship lies in a form of hereditary neuropathology. And this can be caused by less nefarious oversights. We build the lived life on trial and error.”

“We wish we did. We build it through miscalculations of potential dangers, misaligned fears generated by those who gain from fear. I am always the last in the line. Can this really be all that’s left?”

“Try the salad bar. Sadly, you’re right. Even without a left-handed principle, the source of the lived life is definitely out of our grasp. We’re given these complicated texts of self-representation to edit, and we feel exposed, and confused, unable. And this displacement starts to occur as we juggle our metaphors and conceal our embarrassed hope of a retained private truth.

‘Reeling about in a vertiginous stupor, we try
To be both operated and operator,
And catch and ride our voiced breath within its flexed muscular.’”

“And all we manage is an unconscious censorship. A clumsy rewrite. Dressing?”

“Yes please. And this unconscious censorship, internalised, develops sedimental strata, layer upon layer of hardened ident, fusing in places, erupting in others. That’s enough, thanks.”

“The metaphor is bunk.”

“I don’t have another. I think this is yours.”

“Thank you.”

“So the personal is developed from these sedimental layers of displaced purpose.”

“And then we get haunted.”

“Yes, of course, our presented form fills with ghosts. Ghosts that speak for us, held higher than our heads. We get that locked-in feeling, thrust forward, spit clagging at the edge of our mouths.”

“Are we ready? They are asking if we are ready? Does the future belong to ghosts?”

“When I looked down, I was amazed that my body was able to exist in such a narrow form, I cleared my throat [ahem] and tried to catch it speaking before I actually spoke, and I was lost like a dream, that fucking dream, the voiceless never exists in real life, never in these operations. Reeling out beyond the point of winding back, they said. My words fell from the air and rattled across the corrugated roof.”

“I think they’ve run out of chips.”



Part 2: Fisted by the Truth

[Gold starts]

“Are you easing its movement? Is the flow of data unimpeded, unhindered, unresisted? Is it a connectivity unavailable to I alone. An offering of light maybe?”

“And who would that be? This pipe, from my innards…”

“Through your innards.”

“Through my innards. Displaying without displacement.”

[Pause – Pink continues]

“What messages are you displaying? What character can you tell? What information encodes your folds of silk?”

“None. I know. But be fair, I was sure I felt that I felt the formation. But I know now that there wasn’t one. Deep down it wasn’t deep down, just a flow through me, with a false impression added of a genesis and archive. I can see it now, this false impression, cuckolding me, raising this songbird as my own, despite us not sharing a note. It allowed this politic to access all of my sense and insensed. It is bloody information without formation.”

“I saw a light, coming from your gullet, I wondered why it was uncoloured?”

“Okay. Yes, I was naïve, I didn’t use my judgement, I didn’t hinder the truth with a me or a my.”

“How could you forget to be abused? What were you thinking? The arm inside wants to move through your tract from anus to mouth without editorialism. If you don’t hinder, it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t want the complication of abuse. You must make it an abuser.”

“I’m scared of pain, I can’t lie about it. I only wanted to be a sleeve, tenderly hold its wrist and cloak its length.”

“You must be a victim, and it must be an abuser.”

“Yes. I’ll twist my dry gut, place my liver in its path. Grip with my sphincters as hard as I can, create friction, chafe its shaft and restrict its muscle.”

“Abuse creates a new definition of the body, don’t let it dismiss you as a sleeve. We want to find your innate censor. Don’t you dare speak with an unexplained language. Make you take it.”

“I am not easing movement anymore. I exhale loudly, and grated black blood flecks the sheet. Breathe again. Allow a little more inside and stop. More and stop. More aaand stop. More aaand stop. More aaand stop! More aaand stop! More aaand stop! Until it puts me down.”

Categories: Chelsea | Façade | Puppet Show | Self-Censorship as Personality (May 2017) | Written

Created: 16th May 2017
Edited: 23rd January 2018