19 January 2021
To whom it may concern,
I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s work Your Name…, 2020, which was produced for the exhibition Fantasy 1&2 at SIC gallery curated by me. Fantasy 1&2 revolved around monogamy culture, romance, desire, queer relating and commitment. The exhibition also included work by Teo Ala-Ruona, Hinni Huttunen & Illusia Juvani, Anni Puolakka and Abdullah Qureshi. Jessie’s work was also accompanied by a text by Brontë Jones in the small publication I made for the exhibition.
Your Name… consisted of two parts: a photo of a person’s butt that has Your Name tattooed on it, and a 212 word title describing the image and the artist’s complex relation to it.
I first got to know Jessie when they moved to Helsinki in the beginning of 2018. Jessie moved in with me and another artist, Haliz Yosef. We sometimes had dinners or afternoon coffees, but usually we were too busy with our work. Jessie and I bonded later. I think it was around the time we started working on Fantasy 1&2, but I don’t think us getting closer was related to us working together. It was more that we both are a bit shy at first and open up slowly.
Jessie had lived in Helsinki for about a year when I gave them their first tattoo: the logo of HSL, the organisation managing public transport in Helsinki. The logo is round, but the tattoo became oval, since Jessie was sitting down as I poked it into their skin, and I didn’t realise that muscles make the shape of the skin different in different positions. I think it looks nice anyway.
Tattooed ink will fade as time passes, but it will not disappear. Tattoos are forever. The tattoo Your Name is very convenient for a life-long message: it can always be applied to a new lover — showing commitment, but not to anyone specific. It’s a commitment to love in an ironic way. The joke is, that romantic love is not forever. It’s very fragile. Everlasting romance is an illusion, but we really want to believe in it, over and over again. I wonder if making an artwork about something makes it last, fixes it in a certain position, in a way that romantic love can’t?
This is only one aspect of Jessie’s ingenious, multilayered work. I’m a big fan of Jessie’s thinking, and thinking of them and their work excites and inspires me. I give my name to this letter of support as an act of lasting commitment to Jessie’s practice. I would, without hesitation, endorse them for any future collaboration you might have in mind.