“Although I made Self Vs. Self using a blogging platform I see it as a conceptual artwork. I wanted to publicly challenge roles traditionally assigned to women in the art world and reveal the raw experience of a woman artist.
During its creation, Self Vs. Self was a form of unscripted performance art. I documented the risks I took in my life and career and presented them in a public forum as they unfolded.
As a finished work, it’s a collection of overlapping narratives told in writing, paintings and photographs. I wrote essays to critique ideas with which I disagreed and to propose viable alternatives (that I implemented in my career to test and to demonstrate their efficacy). The diary entries document my tumultuous personal experiences during this time and touch on my troubled past.
To be specific, the primary narratives are: pioneering independence as an artist by connecting directly with the audience for my work by using the internet; a woman artist’s experience of the archaic, unregulated, misogynistic system of the traditional art world; predicting – and arguing for – its disintegration while demonstrating a viable alternative; how my art developed over those years; and the story of living with a madness historically linked to creativity, genius and tragedy.
After eleven years Self Vs. Self came to a natural conclusion because I managed to resolve the primary narratives: I liberated myself; the traditional commercial gallery system disintegrated; others, including those in the traditional art world, are now using strategies I pioneered; by making public some of my experiences with sexual discrimination, assault, abuse and harassment, I contributed to social change regarding the treatment of women and girls (via entries in my public blog and my essay Broken, which was published in Women & Power, Griffith REVIEW Edition 40; The Best Australian Essays 2013 edited by Robert Mann; and as an edited extract, retitled Bad Education, in Good Weekend Magazine, an insert in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, 14 April, 2013); I learned how to manage bipolar without medication; and my psychiatrist concluded my treatment in March 2017.
As a simplified narrative Self Vs. Self records the rise of a smart, talented, spirited woman artist and my fall due to mental illness – and, perhaps, due to the strain of accumulated experiences specific to being a woman at a time when our everyday reality is yet to catch up to the equality and protection promised by our legal rights.
My re-emergence – and the beginning of my next ongoing, autobiographical series, Dooney Lives – comes at a time when women are collectively in a process of transformation.”
Excerpt from an interview by Aliki Smith, titled “Hazel Dooney”, published in She Shoots Film Issue No. 3 Metamorphosis, December 2018: (pp. 76-85 and back cover).