The Heartless Insistence Of Domestic Absence (2008)

A lightbox with an image of an unmade bed. Negative casts of rubber nipples in resin dusted with glitter. Blurry images and line drawings of domesticity. A haunting portrait of three children. Consider these as artifacts of a life abandoned, made into a narrative of identity. An identity which can be summed up in a soft sculpture made of fabrics once worn by children: “ My name is not mom.” The “The Heartless Insistence of Domestic Absence” is Nikki Luna’s repetitive admission to an act against all norms—that of leaving the Home, the Family, the Bedroom. Luna negotiates the contradictions created by defying these institutions with a searing self-portrait of a confirmation—never an apology—of an identity forged with the pursuit of difference. Identity that is honed by an opposition of what should have been and what is now, as stated by a glaring pink neon sign screaming “It is what it is.” It is through the difference between these two texts/realities that the artist carries her meaning. The whole image exposes a profound change in consciousness. A change that comes with necessary amnesia. It is impossible to remember everything in transit. Hence the documentary evidences that manifest and emphasize a loss of the artist’s memory, or more succintly, familiarity. The “The Heartless Insistence of Domestic Absence” is a record of discontinuities borne out of Luna’s stepping out of centers of power. Her estrangement is a conception of an identity/sexuality which she deems must be narrated, confessed, discoursified. Luna, not looking back, is quite the pillar—not of damned salt—but of a determination, looking straight at the eye of the storm of relics of domesticity swirling in nostalgia. This is not rebellion nor guilt but a fearless call to rethink institutions that situate the (sexuality of the) individual. All things actually considered, the artist/creator/site of production, now realized, breaks through. He said that “Power operated as a mechanism of attraction.” (Foucault. 45) In this sense, this image of a woman that is used to signify patriarchal fantasy also assumes power by means of attraction. Ultimately, by undergoing the process of objectification of a woman’s image, this same image becomes the subject and the male spectator and male character that are exposed to this image become the object because they are attracted by and follow the image of a woman. Also, according to Foucault, power is not exclusive to one agency alone. He acknowledges the omnipresent characteristic of power. He claims The omnipresence of power: not because it has the privilege of consolidating everything under its invincible unity, but because it is produced from one moment to the next, at every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another. Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere…power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society. (Foucault. 93) Drawing from this argument, it can be assumed that the male cannot claim exclusive ownership of power in film. Foucault understands that power cannot come from the dominant ideology alone he states that “Power comes from below; that is, there is no binary and all-encompassing opposition between rulers and ruled at the root of power relations.” (Foucault. 94) It is now possible for the female to obtain power in the cinema. This may be achieved if the female can enjoy the same amount of subjectification as the male.