These three images are stills from a film I made in which I preform an autopsy on a teddy bear.
My work is as much about process as about the finished piece; everything, whether it is a drawing or a sculpture is defined by a process, performance, or narrative that sparks the idea and grows into the piece. I find found objects very interesting as they have this history of performance or narrative attached to them because they were once owned or used by human hands, for a purpose tied to the identity of the owner. They exist as road markers in an individual’s life’s narrative, or perhaps overlapping through many individuals. In my work I try to imagine and expand on the possible narratives tied to objects I find.
This teddy bear autopsy became about investigating an aspect of my childhood. I had a teddy bear as a child that comforted me when I was upset, that relaxed me, that I could pour my identity into–secrets, fantasies, angers, passions–without ever having to worry about him getting upset with me, about him telling others my secrets. He, my teddy bear, became a safe where I could hide anything I wished.
The film opens with a shot of a white wood table and two trays set to the side of it. I walk in from off screen place the teddy bear on the table and nail it’s hands and feet to the table. I then take a box cutter and cut it in a “Y” shape down its stomach. After cutting it, I pull back the sides of bear and nail them down to the board, revealing the cotton stuffing inside. Once the bear was stationary, I began to remove the cotton on top, revealing a rib cage, a full, bursting stomach, and various other objects inside the rib cage. I slowly and carefully removed it all separating the objects out onto two trays, one being the excess food and guts, crowding and pushing up against the bears vital organs, the other being those vital organs, a broken mirror, a paint brush, crayons, drawings, and other objects. Through these objects a narrative about this bear and therefore about me begins to form. The first still is a shot of the bear cut open with all of its guts and organs removed and separated out onto the two trays.
The film continues onto another seen of me replacing the vital objects inside the rib cage of the bear. The second still is a shot of these objects inside the chest cavity. In the final stage of this performance, I sew the cut open teddy bear back together, no longer over burdened by the excess of food and guts, but still dead of an unknown cause and brutalized by the knife that tore him open. The film concludes with this third still, a shot of me, the performer and teddy bear owner, holding him coldly, unlike i would have as a child. In front of us is displayed the tray of his emptied out stomach.
The film is meant to be ambiguous, dark, but also humorous. Furthermore, this autopsy was filmed in one take and is more of a performance than a film, however, the only observer to the performance was myself and the camera filming it. This isolated performance, this lonely self projection begins to speak to this hiding of secrets, fantasies, angers, and passions inside the teddy bear, and how it all comes back to me the performer. However, I no where in the film can you ever fully see my face or body. In this way, I wanted the film to offer an opportunity for the viewer to see this teddy bear as his or her teddy bear, or else to create the identity and narrative of the owner of the teddy bear.