x acto

Language has always fascinated me.  I begin almost every project I do looking up words.  I look up the title of my piece, or a term I am seeking to use within the work, or even the very subject I am planning on interrogating.  Having things clearly defined is very important to me so that I can begin to think about how to deconstruct their meaning.

When we decided to get divorced, we also decided to use a mediator and not go the traditional route with lawyers.  My ex-husband eventually did end up using a lawyer for some reason, but I never did.  I instead sought the advice of friends and family.  I had previously had a career where I had negotiated contracts for a living, so I felt confident in my abilities to execute an agreement.  It was important to me that I represent myself, after all I hadn’t used a lawyer to get into this marriage, so it was very important that I understand each and every term contained in the agreement.  It was with the precision of an x-acto knife that I went over each line as I wished to craft something that was fair and equitable to us both.

When I was thinking of artists for this project the idea of an x-acto knife made me think of the art of Brandy Wolfe.  Brandy is an artist whose work relies on multiples, nostalgia and the domestic arts. Her work often involves the extensive use of an x-acto knife, cutting hundreds of shapes with surgical like precision. Brandy had also gone through a divorce so I knew that she would understand what I was going through on an emotional level, and I was very interested in seeing what she would do with the agreement.

On the day of delivery, Brandy handed me a legal sized envelope.  Contained within was my entire dissolution agreement surgically cut, line-by-line and randomly reassembled with scotch tape.  It had the delicacy of sheets of lace, or intricately cut paper snowflakes. The scotch tape gave it a nostalgic element and made me think of scrapbooks full of memories that would yellow and fade with time.  The nonsensical content made me acutely aware of how this agreement was not the end.  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?  These words did hurt and without caution could forever cause pain. The deep, sharp cuts, very graphically represented the deep cuts of this separation and the feeble tape, though able to fasten the bits and pieces together again, was transparent and showed that damage that had been done. Like scrapbooks where dried up bits of tape no longer held its contents firmly to the pages, would this agreement come apart at some point?  Would I? It was a poignant and accurate representation of my state of being at the time.


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