And yet, these very “dreamlike” qualities, in which the familiar is made unfamiliar, can also paradoxically clarify our own desires or anxieties. Through video, large drawings, and site-specific wall works, Jill Off, explores this insight, focusing on sexuality and the body.
In her new video series The Treachery of Images, Hirsch has overlaid pornography with animated imagery inspired by the canon of classical surrealism, such as ants, clocks, and lions. The result defamiliarises the porn, removing it from the realm of sexual excitation or provocation. It allows the viewer to see porn, in Hirsch’s terms, “for what it really is”—an achingly awkward, at times humorous, at times terrifying performance of power relations and desire.
Accompanying these videos are subtly surreal portraits from an ongoing series of drawings on fabrics. Here Hirsch presents figures that appear seductive yet timid, aware yet naïve—these are people for whom sex is both endlessly available and increasingly mysterious. In Hirsch’s rendering, the viewer isn’t cued to cast judgment, only to empathise, perhaps even to see themselves.
Finally, the artist presents a series of wall drawings produced using the surrealist technique of automatic drawing in order to embellish and extend these themes, subconsciously pushing against the edges of how the artist herself constructs many of the characters in her performance work, with a particular focus on the dynamics of power in relationships.
Ann Hirsch is a video and performance artist who examines the influence of technology on popular culture and gender. Her immersive research has included becoming a YouTube “cewebrity” with over two million video views and an appearance as a contestant on Frank the Entertainer…In a Basement Affair on Vh1. She was awarded a Rhizome commission for her two-person play Playground which debuted at the New Museum and was premiered by South London Gallery at Goldsmiths College. Recent solo shows include MIT List Visual Arts Center, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, and the New Museum’s online project space First Look. She is a 2017 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grantee.