NYC artist Priscilla Jeong sculpts her own tears – which she calls ‘pathetic discharge’ – into glass-like works
They say beauty is pain – but Lash Blast x 2% Flourish, an upcoming exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Priscilla Jeong, takes it to its literal limits. Made entirely out of the artist’s tears and sugar solution, Lash Blast aims to demonstrate the pathetic situations from which tears arise – onions, makeup remover, sadness, and so on. For Jeong, all tears are a ‘pathetic discharge’.
Citing consumerism as an influencing factor to her work, Jeong is inspired by the pursuit of beauty and the residual pain that sometimes accompanies it, “overnight facial mask irritates and luscious satin celebrate with high tech attitude,” reads the poem on her press release. It is this obsession towards perfection that is exploited by advertising within the beauty and well-being industries. Will this face scrub really make my skin look flawless? Is this bleach really going to hide my ‘tache? Well, there’s a deal on at Superdrug, so...
Opening today at New York’s Interstate Projects, we caught up with the artist over email to talk about all things beauty, money, and tears. No tissues needed.
Can you comment on the saying ‘beauty is pain’?
Priscilla Jeong: I can’t stop myself from buying sparkling water every day even though it hurts (the) back of my throat so good.
What do you mean by the fetishisation of the well-being and beauty industries?
Priscilla Jeong: Will Taking This So-and-so Supplement Make Your Left Upper Lip Puffier and More Gorgeous Than It’s Ever Looked?
Do you think these extreme standards of beauty are a product of capitalism?
Priscilla Jeong: If you compare yourself to the images in ads / magazines displaying perfect everything and it’s making you rush into beauty stores, yes. It’s encouraging “cultural schizophrenia” because our vulnerability is profitable. You wouldn’t be ruining your skin if you didn’t find yourself in this constant state of imperfection.
“It’s encouraging ‘cultural schizophrenia’ because our vulnerability is profitable. You wouldn’t be ruining your skin if you didn’t find yourself in this constant state of imperfection” – Priscilla Jeong
Do you think some tears are more authentic than others? Do the tears you collected from 'pathetic' situations (onions, make up wipes etc.) translate differently in your art to tears collected in moments of happiness or sadness?
Priscilla Jeong: I consider them equally important and delicate. it’s a pathetic discharge — signalling the emotional state to others.
Your accompanying poems are very tongue and cheek. Do you think people take material items too seriously? Why do you think this is?
Priscilla Jeong: I think obsession over materials is a perfect example of self-fulfilment. To achieve something is rewarding and I believe, purely because my reward points get stacked when noticed and recognised by others. it’s a system of constant reassurance.
For me, your art depicts the objectification of our emotions (tears are a residue of emotion); the more we consume in capitalism, the less authentic our emotions (/tears) become. Can you comment on this?
Priscilla Jeong: I’ve been very much far removed from the act of ‘tearing’ – dealing with the situations emotionally and juggling to collect them in vials. The act gets gradually calculated. But that doesn’t mean that my eyes are going to stop spitting when irritated by pessimistic situations.
Lash Blast x 2% Flourish is on show at NYC's Interstate Projects until 5 June, 2016