Catharcissism (save me make me keep me take me)

Catharcissism (save me make me keep me take me) dredges Katie Porter’s creative and written past to resuscitate and release words frozen on a hard-drive by the anxiety of sharing one’s creative production. Each of the work’s 200+ assorted poems – from random haikus, to tween love poems and abandoned and forgotten works-in-progress – is printed only once, offered by Porter as a unique physical trace. Tacked onto a pinboard inside the Clutch Collective truck, these poems present a deeply personal act of cathartic self-release and the nerve to narcissistically self-celebrate: aren’t I such a good writer/poet/artist? Just look, I’ve been a genius for years!

Yet in reading Porter’s portmanteau title and instructional subtitle, Catharcissism (save me make me keep me take me), we are in no way convinced – Porter acknowledges, apologises and distances herself from the self-suggested narcissism. By opening up the personal past in such a public format, and by the nature of Porter’s shifting personal pronouns in the poems themselves, a distinct author/reader relationship is averted. The narcissistic auto-biographer celebrating their own life puts themselves at the centre of their narrative: the reader reads about them. Porter’s catharcissistic installation on the other hand, in performing a deeply personal ritual aimed to release, resuscitate and reactivate anxiety-locked creative production, prompts the reader to perhaps read about themselves, or remember a friend, or to experience the thought that one’s past need not be closed off from being reshaped, burnt off or reassigned.

Thus, Catharcissism (save me make me keep me take me) achieves a playful tension between the personal, the serious, and the dripping-with-affective-potential moments, and the impersonal, the funny, and the formally-pleasing-yet-not-overly-meaningful parts. The lofty portmanteau’s reference to self-release, renewal, ostentatiousness and the anxiety-laden publication of personal creativity, is counter-weighted by a soft and instructional poetic subtitle that anthropomorphises and personalises each printed poem as an individual, a me.

Porter’s strategy of distancing herself from her creative production in order for it to be shared and become public is here evidenced. Each poem a character in itself, an always-already apologetic title, the shifting personal pronouns: all are defence mechanisms that allow Porter to step outside her usual processes of work-making and release unedited and raw creative production. Some hurt, some are cringe-worthy, some are funny, some are good, some are bad, some are personal, some are just fun: all engage in an interaction between language, emotional attachment and the showing to others of things others don’t really care about seeing.

Written by Jacob Warren

From the exhibition ‘Catharcissism (save me make me keep me take me)’ by Katie Porter (April, 2016)
Courtesy of Clutch Collective