The Mythical World of Lina Iris Viktor

Art has the power to breathe life into us. When I first ran across the awe-inspiring work of Lina Iris Viktor I saw something that I didn’t know I needed: a reflection. Lina Iris Viktor is an accomplished conceptual artist and painter, whose work was showcased alongside Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tom Sachs, Ryan McGinley, & Peter Beard. Viktor’s work is loud, striking, and unapologetic. It is ornate and minimalist; realistic yet mythical; and she strictly adheres to a color palate of royal blue, black, white, and 24 karat gold.  She is her own muse, and many of her paintings and performance art pieces are centered on her own body acting as a canvas, sheathed in rich fabric, or dripping in black and gold paint.  She places a great importance on photographing herself with her work: she aims to create an ongoing record of her world and the way she interacts with it. Often, these self-portraits feature Viktor posing and voguing alongside of her completed paintings. On her website, she wrote of her self-portraits:

There is often a certain abstraction – an otherworldliness – to her photographed work which moves between the real and the imagined, the concrete and the geometric. Viktor approaches her photographs with a compulsive perfection, and with a very succinct vision.

She encourages her own myth, reinforcing the impression of a perfectly sealed off cycle of existence in which elements of the work and her life become virtually interchangeable. This myth has been so fostered by Viktor in the way she lives and works, arranges her workspace – through her choice of attire, and the concepts she conveys in her paintings.

Her deeply held philosophies and her essence resides in her paintings, but her photographs offer a clear picture of how Viktor experiences her work and the world she creates. Her goals extend beyond a simple documentation of her paintings – her real ambition is to create a visual record, a time capsule, a memory of her own experience of it – of a period, a body of work, a time. She provides an account of her life and her art, which is inseparable from life itself as she lives it.

Lina Viktor’s work is so striking to me not only because of her pure talent for capturing her image and imagination, but because I see myself in her work. A certain quote by art critic Jon Updike comes to mind when I try to articulate what Viktor’s pieces do for me, “What art offers is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit.” There is something magical about Viktor’s presence in her work: as a black woman, she unapologetically takes up space and her energy is magnetic. Viktor’s work captures my gaze and engulfs me in her graphic, elaborate creations. In her self-portraits, Viktor peers back at me expectantly.

Viktor’s work appeals to my secret aesthetic. Anyone who knows me well knows that I adore toeing the line between classy and gaudy; I like extravagant textures, loud patterns and bold colors with classic shapes. I  do not show this woman to the world often. I am aware of the way others perceive me and carefully curate my outward appearance so as to not attract too much attention. As a black woman often occupying spaces where modesty is highly valued, I have to scale back, especially since my blackness and womanness garner enough attention alone. However, I refuse to hold myself back fully: I cannot resist fur scarves and coats; my royal blue and gold-studded trench coat; huge statement necklaces and earrings; richly patterned headscarves and pants; and high heels. In contrast, I am deliberately silent; observing the people and world around me carefully. When I do adorn my body boldly, I am comfortable in others’ gazes. Experiencing Lina Viktor’s work is seeing her living in her truth, and it’s a beautiful sight to see. I feel at home when I see her world, and it inspires me to want to live unapologetically in my own truth.

You can experience more of Lina Iris Victor’s work on her website, here.

On Repeat: The Internet

I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately. I haven’t yet mastered the balancing act of pursuing goals that are sometimes in conflict with each other and I’ve fallen in and out of love with many aspects of my life. One thing has stayed the same, however. I find an incredible amount of relief and introspection during the hours of my day spent listening to music. The Internet is satisfying my need to vibe and ride out my emotional ups and downs for nearly three months now. I think this is the longest I’ve ever listened to an artist and I’m so grateful that I stubbled upon them again. One of my closest friends tried to put me on to The Internet years ago by playing their first album Purple Naked Ladies for me back in 2011, but my musical tastes needed to develop before I could appreciate their brand of sound.

Again, I am a lover of contemporay R&B and hip-hop and I was drawn to The Internet’s soul and funk influences. The Internet is a soul band formed by Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians, two producers and members of the Odd Future label. I started off listening to Ego Death, their most recent album and was immediately struck by Syd’s sultry voice and the melodic jazz band. Their music is a perfect match for my energy at the moment–I love listening to Ego Death while walking through Wissahickon park and traveling; their second release Feel Good complements my calmer, more melacholy moods, and Purple Naked Ladies is perfect when I feel an inspired energy vibrating around me. Check out their most recent video for “Special Affair/Curse,” which I absolutely LOVE. I’ve also linked below their full albums for your listening pleasure.

 

On Repeat: Jay Prince

I’ve had two different people approach me in the last week and ask whether I choose my music individually (favorite songs); by the artist, or by the album. Now, a few years ago I wouldn’t even know where to start in answering that question. I’ve never been a “music-head” and I’ve only begun understanding my personal music tastes this past year. And since I’ve started my job with Parks and Recreation, I’ve been spending time listening to music on a daily basis. I don’t usually listen to music unless I’m working/writing, traveling, or pampering myself. So when these two people asked me my preferences I was so excited just to be able to reflect and give an honest answer.

If you’ve been following my “On Repeat” posts, you’d notice that I’ve recently been posting full albums, and it’s because I’ve discovered that I am definitely an “album person.” I thoroughly enjoy being taken on a full melodic ride with a consistent flowing vibe. Music really influences my mood now, so when I find an artist I like, I need to be able to listen to their full album several times a day for me to truly love them.

So, of course I’ve found another artist that I’ve fallen in love with: Jay Prince. He’s a UK M.C. with two recent EPs out: Befor Our Time and Beautiful Mercy. I love his storytelling and the electric and funk influences throughout his work. I’ve been listening to both albums every single day for the past month and I still haven’t stopped smiling, rapping and bouncing to my favorite song, “AfroPhunk” since i first stumbled upon it. Listen to “AfroPhunk” and “Bump That” from Beautiful Mercy below, and the full album Befor Our Time below.

 

On Repeat: GoldLink

So, for some reason I can’t stop myself from becoming addicted to an artist for a few weeks at a time. I’ll end up listening to their songs back to back and crave those soothing sounds throughout the day until I stumble upon a new artist to latch onto. These past few weeks I’ve been addicted to GoldLink. I’m really enjoying the techno and Afro-Latin influences, and of course I’m a sucker for anyone who can pull off the rap/singing combination smoothly. I listen to both of his albums The God Complex and And After That, We Didn’t Talk in entirety throughout my bus and train rides through the city, and they are the perfect soundtrack to my wandering daydreams in the window seat.

My favorite song is “Ay Ay,” watch it and listen to GoldLink’s music below.

 

On Repeat: Roy Woods

I will be forever indebted to my best friend for putting me on to Roy Woods because as soon as I heard him hit the first note in “Jealousy,” I was hooked. I’m serious–I’ve been listening to this song AT LEAST four times a day, and I listen to his whole EP on repeat during my morning and evening commute to and from work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at my computer/phone/tv screen completely transfixed by his music video for this song. I’ll be real–there’s nothing particularly special about this video as it’s pretty simple, but the charisma and confidence that exudes from Roy Woods’ voice and dancing is everything to me and keeps me coming back for more.

My second favorite song on the Exis EP is “Get You Good” (video also below). There’s something about his voice that is so sexy to me, especially when he transitions from rapping, to yelling, to singing in one verse.

Okay, okay. I have a crush on Roy Woods. Listen to him below.

Kicks

Okay. Please, please listen to Kicks by fka twigs, which is a powerful and sensual song about masturbation and self-pleasure. I feel like a sexually charged goddess every time I listen to her sing, “What do I do when you’re not here? I get my kicks like you.”

A year or two ago I wrote a piece of erotica with my roommate. For some reason, I had the hardest time writing the piece by myself, even though it was based on a real experience I had. I took it to my roommate and we banged it out super quick together. It was so much fun. If you’re comfortable with it, I’d recommend writing a piece or brainstorming erotica with friends. My roommate and I definitely brought out the best of each other’s ideas and language and I still feel proud of the piece, which you can read below.

How do you get off? Do you write or read, listen to sexy music, watch erotica, or use your imagination? Continue reading