sex offender

In another series, Sex Offender, I continue to explore the permeable line between public and private and how technology alters this dynamic. Here I investigate how the exposure of personal information via the Internet—whether offered voluntarily or distributed without knowledge or consent—is transforming the landscape of privacy and how this exposure affects marginalized groups who have historically depended on anonymity and concealment in order to survive. Formally, this series contrasts portrait oil paintings of paired individuals. Each portrait is modeled on a documentary photograph: one is requested from an LGBT-identified friend while the other is obtained from a government-run sex offender registration website. I choose the sex offender who lives within the closest proximity to the other’s address—in some instances the two residing in the same apartment building—alluding to this relational distance in the title of the piece.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, “Sex offender registration is a system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community, for public safety purposes.” In reality, these websites become tools for community members to perform acts of shaming and even violent vigilantism on individuals labeled “sex offender”, an overly broad definition that includes public urination, streaking, and consensual sex between minors. In fact, under previous iterations of sodomy laws, many LGBT individuals would have been eligible for this registry. I am interested in the dynamic of chance and circumstance through which the Internet ties together two individuals whose commonality of occupying socially and sexually marginal positions can’t be ignored.

As I work through these modes of exposure, I reflect on the profound changes in our understanding of identity, personal boundaries, and self-representation. To blur these parameters, I re-present these images as oil paintings to decontextualize them from their source material while simultaneously investing in them a sense of intimacy, making the work suggestive, as opposed to didactic.

Oil on canvas. 
40"x20". Diptychs. Ongoing.
"106 ft." 
"2,112 ft." 
"5,808 ft." 
"3,696 ft." 
"1,584 ft." 
"4,752 ft."