An installation combining bound texts, sculpture, and stand-alone drawings, My Boyfriend Walt Whitman constructs a performative devotional space for viewers to investigate and inhabit my fictional romantic relationship with the titular poet. Only the poet in my works isn’t quite the Walt Whitman people may remember. He’s been transformed through the multi-faceted prism of my desires, experiences real and imagined, material concerns, and conceptual interests in the aesthetic of cuteness.
My Boyfriend Walt Whitman examines performances of cuteness in the every day through embracing the aesthetic’s disparate, often contradictory agendas. Bodily transformation, innocence, improvisational logic, product manufacture, lying, the miniature, role playing, the illusion of the anthropomorphic, sexual attraction, and fantastic story-telling are linked through a word which inspires simultaneous affection and disgust. This thesis utilizes drawing, which remains a primary means of establishing the cute in popular culture, to connect these agendas and ground itself in the liberty of cute play. Masked as autobiography, My Boyfriend Walt Whitman gleefully blurs the line between historical revision and self-invention.