BDSM is an acronym for an overlapping abbreviation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM). As a 2spirit Metis/Saulteaux/Polish hard femme, it’s incredibly healing.
My name is Dayna Danger and I’m a visual artist. Prairie queer here, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. At present, I am living in the land of quality bagels and safe haven for Anglophones like myself, Montreal, Quebec. Graduate school in photography is what brought me here, but the community of folks that surround me, are what grounds me.
I’ve been precariously walking the line of empowerment and objectification through a queer white passing/mixed cis woman lens these days. The body and its representation have always been important to me. So has covering it in baby oil and having folks rock a rack of antlers, big or small. My series, Big’Uns, was all about reclaiming pornography, media, our gaze, our bodies and projecting it in a way that was challenging. For years I have been using lens based mediums to communicate my ideas visually.
It’s been months since I’ve talked about my work. Depression and unraveling the layers of trauma can really get you down. I call it my cocoon phase, except I seem to be revealing more open vulnerable wounds then getting anywhere close to a butterfly.
Last August 2015, I arrived in Vancouver with a past lover after rolling my car in a ditch filled with Sage. We carried on without a scratch. I’m quite proud of our resilience to seeing our respective families in different regions. On our only proper night in Vancouver before heading to Terrace, we hit up a punk show. I haven’t been to one of these in AGES. Like a good 14+ years. I remember feeling really uncomfortable, sticking out like a sore thumb, like they could tell I’ve been listening to other genres, and that teenager angst was not as present in my body. The positivity was dwindling.
The night was saved because this majestic babe shows up after back and forth texting, <3Jeneen<3. Something sparks inside of me. We gravitate to the mosh pit and cross hold hands like they did in that one scene in Titanic. Spinning Spinning Spinning! We let er’ rip! Smashing dudes in our way, like two sides of a battle axe, cutting down the dudes (who LOVED it), just like the patriarch. Jeneen Frei Njootli spoke to me about this imagery of the double-sided battle axe and I couldn’t shake it. It’s now tattooed on my body it resonated so much.
This brings me to what I’m working on now. I’m currently in process, the ideas are there, but sometimes hard to articulate. I started beading my axe, and then my friend’s tattoos onto leather fetish masks I privately commissioned.
The beadwork is done by myself and in its first iteration, two other talented native women that I hired, Nicole Redstar and Tricia Livingston. Georgia Crane, Adrienne Huard and Kandace Price wore the masks we beaded, with 2 of them wearing masks with their very own beaded tattoos on the side. It’s ramping up again as I have four new masks, without eye holes this time, to bead.
These masks are my cocoon stage.
To give some context on what I mean about BDSM being healing for myself, is a quote from powerhouse Lindsay Nixon, VISUAL CULTURES OF INDIGENOUS FUTURISMS, SÂKIHITO-MASKIHKIY ACÂHKOSIWIKAMIKOHK
“Indigenous peoples’ sexualities are frequently equated to histories of sexual violence, commodified and institutionalized by settlers seeking to dominate, discipline, and control Indigenous bodies. Danger’s use of the leather BDSM mask references the kink community as a space to explore complicated dynamics of sexuality, gender, and power in a consensual and feminist manner. Danger engages with her own medicine, beading, in order to mark kink as a space for healing colonial trauma. There is no shame in this action. Here the models’ gender expressions and sensual lives are integral to their resurgent identities as Indigenous peoples.”
3 thoughts on “Masks – Dayna Danger, Guest Blogger”
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Amazing, powerful work. The idea of beading the masks – indigenous meanings – power and subjection: stunning and a little frightening. I’m of the generation who was around when Kiss & tell put out Drawing the Line. Such a pleasure to think that queer femmes are continuing to advance the conversation about non-normative sexualities.