Erma Fiend On Self Portraiture and the Dimensions of Time

July 26, 2019 by GIPHY Arts

Chew On This is a speaker series created and hosted by GIPHY. The format is a 30 minute artist lecture presented by a single artist or team of artist using GIFs in their practice. The first public Chew On This took place on July 8th, 2019 with GIF artist Erma Fiend. In their talk, Fiend describes the role of identity in their practice.

“I have always felt the dissonance and tension between femininity and performed femininity inhabiting my body and gendered spaces. Doing GIF art with a self portrait focus was a way of putting that tension and discomfort into something that felt whole and contained.”

“GIFs have been an outlet for me trying to figure out a lot of things that I couldn’t put into words. I came out as trans and started medically transitioning some time shortly after, maybe a year into making self portraits on a regular basis. It’s funny to try and create a sense of continuity throughout my work that’s present in every GIF– trying to find a sense of wholeness when I feel like a lot of my older work looks different or I look different in it or my relationship to myself was different. I’ve used the artist name Erma Fiend  throughout and you know, I’ve always seen that as a persona that was both a part of me and a performative form.”

Another standout topic in Erma Fiend’s talk delves into the role of perpetual math and topology as an influence in their work.

“There’s a good joke in topology that there’s no difference between a donut and a cup of coffee. There is a branch of geometry that looks at the outer skin of an object and how many holes it has and the idea that you can deform it and it still retains its essence. In that sense, the idea of something having consistency as it squashes and stretches, but still retains its general properties is something that was always very interesting to me, and then also the idea of time as dimensional element.”

“I’m looking at how kids learn math and conceptualize learning to count and the language of it. Having a sense of what “1” really means and the idea that a group of things can be “1” if you’re counting. There’s a lot of things that we conceptually take for granted about what math actually is. It really is just the logic of things happening in the world.”

Chew On This events are held at GIPHY and are open to local artists interested in the power of GIFs. Each lecture is followed by a Q&A with the presenting artist at the helm. To find out about Chew On This Events, follow @giphyarts or join our artist directory for a personal invitation to local events in your area.