Briefly describe the work you do.
I am a cultural producer. My aim is to generate thoughtful, creative work and generate a space for discovery utilizing performance, video, curation, writing, and conversation. I am interested in uncovering cultural and personal trauma/stigma through the advent of humorous, topical personae, which reflects social and political conditioning within language.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I am heavily influenced by both the personal and theoretical. Personally, I am influenced by my upbringing, as well as queer and sexual survival strategies. I am influenced by the brave and incredible people in my life who have also learned to be survivors, I rely heavily on the stories and conversations of my found families in order to help locate and percolate my interests, drives, and methods. Theoretically, I am influenced by cultural criticism, performance theory, and Western queer feminist theory. I am influenced by theories of stigma, non-linear time development as a way to generate narrative, the possibilities and terror of language manipulation. And, lately, I am learning that I am also interested in how corporate language can function as an entry point into an exploration of personal affect and traumatic memory.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore.Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
3: The idea of the “artist studio” feels dated to me. I have a space where I store things, make my videos, work on the computer, and write on the wall, yet I would not consider myself to relate to this space in any kind of romantically “artistic” way. For that matter, a static definition of artist is one that ought to be challenged. My studio is my whenever I am reading, thinking, talking about my projects; which, is all the time. Driving to work, socializing, making notes- I am always thinking about what I am curating, who I need to write to, images for videos and performances, theory I am reading, and why I feel it to be relevant to my highly emotional and deeply personal work. Furthermore, I do not wish to entertain a dichotomy which would suggest that there is a “traditional” notion of being in the studio, for there are myriad avenues by which to produce work, millions of brains and hands by which to make those ideas, and therefore, an incredible amount of paths by which to consider one’s “studio” space. This space may be physical, it may be the computer, a playground, an office cubicle, a notebook, a camera, under a bed, or in the woods.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
As mentioned in my ideas about the “studio”, I think there are multiple ways to be a creative individual. Currently, I am learning how to contemplate curation as an extension of one’s art practice. I am always investigating the role of academic writing as it relates to artistic production, how these roles can function within an artistic continuum. I am realizing how, through making space for people whose practices are similar to mine, advocating for thoughtful and intelligent artwork, I can expand my personal artistic practice into realms that carry potential and significance. I cannot claim a time where in which I “started” making art, for I have always been curious about ways in which to extrapolate my life experiences into a form and gesture that both abstracts and exemplifies those experiences. However, I can say that there is a lot of potential in being able to position and configure oneself as a cultural producer and linchpin between artistic spaces and those designated as “non-artistic” ones.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day? Every week? Or, do you just work whenever you can?
I think the best time of day for getting cognitive work done is in the morning, while drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and listening to the news. The best time of day to shoot my videos, where in which I am opening up various emotional portals, is in the evening, when I have spent a day going over my “points” (I improvise everything, and shoot my work in one take) and entering a somber head space.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
What has changed in my work is a growing ability to locate my intuitive moments within greater theoretical and cultural discourses, while at the same time, becoming more and more in touch with, and embracing, my past trauma, my healing, and my catharsis. I still have a vested interest in using language, repetition, and duration as a way to unpack seemingly minimal structures into complex webs of content and affect. Significantly, what has changed is speaking in my work. Five years ago, I would manipulate sound away from the videos so that the viewer could not digest the entire product. At the time, this choice was defended through Kaja Silverman’s text The Acoustic Mirror, yet now I can understand this choice was motivated by a discomfort in addressing the full spectacle of my performance. And, well, now, I am on a path of connected voice, body, gesture, and content all within the same temporal space- at the discomfort of both my audience and myself.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
As mentioned, I am extremely influenced by past and my current found family. The intimate relationships of my present and the ghosts of my past profoundly impact my work. I also look toward strong, dynamic female and queer leaders within my community in Kansas City, MO as well as those leaders who have allowed my work within the art community to be possible. My current partner and artistic collaborator, Tim Amundson, plays a tremendous role in my artistic output, and engenders space for me to contemplate all aspects of my work- from inception to installation. I look toward comedy and the poetics of humor as a device for surviving and healing; and am incredibly impacted by narratives of female, queer and non-traditional relationships. Depending on the project, I may be impacted by a particular history or narrative. Currently, I am reading about the myth of the West, Cowgirls, and how to start an LLC.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I have many occupations, Artist is simply one of them. Or all of them. I’m unsure at the moment. However, if I were to dedicate my creative energy and resources toward something in a singular way that resided outside of my current tapestry of daily activity, I would want to work within artistic programming and/or direction for a company/non-profit that had a vested interest in artist’s needs, or found a dedicated space to showcase performative and alternative artistic practices within a mid-sized city. In many ways, I feel as though my creative trajectory is leading me to work in this way alongside my personal artistic practice.
Jessica Borusky is a artist/educator/curator currently living and working in Kansas City, MO. Drawing from theatrical absurdist tragicomedy, stigmatization theory, performance and queer theory, linguistics and U.S. history, Jessica creates personas through performative actions which showcase these topics, while uncovering cathartic personal narrative and trauma. She received her B.A. from New College of Florida and her M.F.A from Tufts/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is currently a resident at the Charlotte St. Foundation in Kansas City.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.