Josie Alexandra

By CREAM ATHENS   |   September 2022


Image by Tiffany Walling Mcgarity

How would you describe yourself?

“Beep bop bop, what is it to be human” ~ somewhere between a squirrel, an alien and with an eating style like Grimes, but as a nutrition junkie.  

What’s integral to your work as an artist?

A guiding framework of mine is Political Love. What does it mean to see self and others in our authenticities? I guess this concept could also be framed as Sense Making. I often feel like I’m roleplaying as a sociologist of the local and global ecosystem around me. Sensitive and powerful self-knowings look inward, before venturing out again as playful and experimental expressions where poetic lines dance across frames. 

 Which artists have been your big influences?

A recent fixation has been Leonora Carrington, particularly her painting Adieu Ammenotep, and the way that it depicts a blurred boundary between magic and medicine - this theme is one of the focal points in my project {P01~L94CG}. I stumbled across her painting after I had planned out a forthcoming film shoot with a very similar style and idea exploration. I love synchronicities! 

Two artists which continue to have a reverberating influence, since I was a teenager; are Carol Jerrems (Vale Street, 1975) and Tracey Moffatt (Something More, 1989 & Night cries: A rural tragedy 1989). There’s particular feelings in their works which I still revisit. My sister took me to see a retrospective of Jerrems' work at the National Gallery of Australia when I was 17, it was definitely a pivotal moment in my life. My style and medium might have changed over the years, but Jerrems' and Moffatt' works have grounded in me: a constant fascination in examining the psychologically charged energy within intra-personal dynamics in modes-of-being and being-in-the-world. This concern might not always be front and centre, but it is always present in my work. 

Finally, Sevdaliza is a staple! Her production on tracks like Human and use of minimal, yet evocative lyrics are a constant bar which I strive for in my writing and editing process. 

Josie Alexandra © courtesy of the artist

How do you choose the themes/subjects in your works?

Life seems to dish them up and present them to me. 

For example, my current project {P01~L94CG} emerged from an ambition to re-contextualise and process my grandma's life, legacy and death. Not just for me, by hoping to fine tune intergenerational patterns as a cycle breaker. ~ if you want to change institutions, start at the institution of family. 

My grandma gave me a lot in terms of wisdom, into her 90’s she was the encapsulation of an independent woman, she had been one of the first women to study architecture at RMIT in Melbourne. I've been very privileged by the proximity I had to her. She was incredibly strong willed and believed that any illness could be healed by thinking alone or finding the psychological root of it.

But, and there is also a but, in the scandalous reality of family. She also left a lot of open wounds, for example she never accepted the various expressions of neurodiversity or queerness within members of her family. There was a definitive lack in feeling or cultivating love and acceptance in people's authenticity, including my own. 

So, I got to work examining different aspects of how I saw her move through the world, and conceived the theme for my project; recontextualizing her politic of  “the importance of knowing one's mind”. I saw that in honouring her strong mind, which she lived her life by, it would help me to know myself better  and the project grew from there. 

It is now a long-form philosophical-artistic project, working with my artistic persona’s X4NDR4 & Carto. The project supports the reclamation of sovereignty in my subjecthood; celebrating: trans, queer and neurodivserse ways of being. I implement these experiences into artistic methodologies, which in turn cultivates a sense of interiority through relationships to the virtual, physical and digital. {P01~L94CG} will be a non-linear, sonic-cinematic installation; a poetry book; an album; a film, custom fashion items and a series of paintings.

What’s the best part about your practice?

Being able to trust the intuitive processes in how my practice articulates its seasons. For example, I'll spend a month only painting; listening to youtube lectures or TV shows in the background. Then one morning I will wake up and my practice’s compass would have twisted and is like, enough of that, let's get into making vocal samples on ableton. 

You know, I used to find this part of my practice really distressing, like “why am I not able to focus and finish anything!” However, reading the concept of Elliptical Time Orbits in Marta Rose’s Neuro Emergent Time: Making Time Make Sense for ADHD & Autistic People, revolutionised my relationship to my practice. I’m now able to focus on responding to what my practice wants and needs to best operate. Now, I think it’s a really amazing quality within my practice: being able to shift into multiple forms of expression. 

Since April 2021 I’ve worn an engagement ring to recognise that I’m in a full time relationship with my practice. 

What title would you give to this chapter of your life? 

Currently, it's having a hermit lifestyle of; Transmutation, ~ maybe it’s a bit cliched but I’m happy to lean into that. Recently, I’ve been in this era of having profound downloads, reclabilibrations; causing big shifts in the way I articulate my needs and values. I feel that this is ultimately setting the foundations for a really fulfilling artistic life. My self confidence surprises me at times, I’m working on my emotional intensity/reactivity. Every week I’m growing stronger and my mental health symptoms are going more into remission and relapse are less deep or long, - all of which means my practice can flourish. 

  Are there any strong realisations during the pandemic?

A lot of realisations came about. I really am grateful for experiencing the world's longest lock down in Naarm/Melbourne. I needed that hermit time, in fact I still live like a hermit. Though I’m speaking from a lot of privileges from that time, (I had a well paid job, a stable, loving and caring home environment). The lockdown was a great time to knuckle down and take my practice and self healing seriously, which purged a lot of energy and trauma to be able to be here today saying, I’m now working full time as an artist because that's what feels right for me, the uncertainty about pursuing my art has vapourised. I now have my projects to focus on and goals reaching out into the future. I have a lockdown to thank for giving me the time to be with myself. 

During lockdown I got to recalibrate my body. I learnt how my body gets overwhelmed from sensory overload and how that impacts my practice. I now am confident in knowing that my practice requires my life to not be too overloaded with stimulus.

What parts of yourself (as a person or as an artist) do you need to break up with?

Oof! The part that still is seeking the external “fix” / gratification from other people. You know the part that wants to and sometimes responds to a text before I have completed writing my morning pages. Also discipline, people externally say I’m disciplined, but I want to feel disciplined. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

No matter how stressful the situation is presently; eventually you’re going to look back and laugh at the experience. It might be stressful now, but it’s a story in the future, which you will connect with other people over.  

Teach us something we don’t know.

I use the phrase 'concept zone' instead of 'crush'. 

People we don’t know are just ideas we make off observations, small interactions and a collection of thoughts, feelings and experiences merging the past, present and future. 

Crushes are conceptual! We don't actually know the person, but we like the idea of them being in our lives some way or another, as a lover or an artistic collaborator. We are drawn to other humans but, who wants to be weighed down by Crushes? 

I mean, a quick google will present the verb; crush as; “compress or squeeze forcefully so as to break, damage, or distort in shape” or “violently subdue (opposition or a rebellion)” who wants that in their interpersonal dynamics or life generally?

The term 'crush' just feels like stale idea from the cis hetro patriarchal agenda to normalise emotionally or physically abusive relationships. Without doing anything, the idea of someone can become a “crush” and disrupt the everyday flow or state of mind of another person. Why?

I’m a huge advocate of the material impact that words and language have on our being and capacity to move through the world and I seek to create neologism to cultivate a just-equitable future. 

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