Artist Carissa Rodriguez shares an exclusive portfolio in the current issue of Document Journal.

It’s Symptomatic/What Would Edith Say are photographs of artists’ tongues that have been diagnosed by an acupuncturist. What does it mean to diagnose an image as opposed to the living thing? In acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the overall internal health of one’s organs can be diagnosed by the appearance of the tongue—by its color, shape, texture, and coat. If the artwork is said to mirror the artist’s soul in all of its depth, these works offer an image of the tongue as surface—a surface that is always in flux and whose aesthetic appearance is contingent on the wellness or un-wellness of the artist. If our bodily functions are to be imagined as computing, the tongue is something like a screengrab of the artist’s internal state. If what is at stake in the production of art is not the image of beauty but the “promise of happiness,” what could be the correlation between good health and good taste, bad health and bad taste; or good health and bad taste, bad health and good taste?

If the artwork is said to mirror the artist’s soul in all of its depth, these works offer an image of the tongue as surface

Artist Carissa Rodriguez explains: “A service top is one who tops under the direction of an eager bottom. A versatile top is one who prefers to top but who bottoms occasionally. Starting at the top, the artist’s tongue—muscle of conceptual articulation and arbiter of aesthetic disposition—is more simply, the locus of language and taste; while accordingly at the bottom, the filth of distinction gathers in the anus. Pornography sanitizes anuses by cosmetically bleaching them for the screen, rendering natural flesh “more uniform with its surrounding area,” similar to the way art galleries light and fluff their spaces to achieve the cold, fluorescent-white installation shot that emits an ambience akin to the sweatshop—an artwork at its maximum efficiency. Between tongue and anus are the organs, situated midway, or Midtown, much like the art advisor’s position between the artist and the collector. Practitioners of Chinese medicine diagnose the conditions of internal organs as its symptoms appear on the tongue’s surface, which is read and appraised like a rare map, rug, vase, or painting, and although it is too overwrought to liken the tongue to a screen (mirroring the artist inside) or to a ‘mood board’ in the case of the branding consultant, the liver and spleen are nevertheless dutifully at work scripting messages to the moist upper surface.”

It’s Symptomatic / What Would Edith Say is currently on exhibit at Karma International at Frieze New York, May 14-17, 2015 and in the current issue of Document Journal, on newsstands now.

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