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← My life as a work of art

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Showing Revision 2 created 06/06/2019 by Leslie Gauthier.

  1. My day starts just like yours.
  2. (Laughter)
  3. When I wake up in the morning,
  4. I check my phone
  5. and then I have a cup of coffee.
  6. But then my day truly starts.
  7. It may not be like yours because
    I live my life as an artwork.
  8. Picture yourself in a giant jewelry box
  9. with all the beautiful things
    that you have ever seen in your life.
  10. Then imagine that your body is a canvas.
  11. And on that canvas,
  12. you have a mission to create a masterpiece
  13. using the contents of your giant jewelry box.
  14. Once you've created your masterpiece,
  15. you might think, "Wow, I created that.
  16. This is who I am today."
  17. Then you would pick up your housekeys,
  18. walk out the door into the real world,
  19. maybe take public transport
    to the center of the town.
  20. Possibly walk along the streets
    or even go shopping.
  21. That's my life every day.
  22. When I walk out the door,
  23. these artworks are me.
  24. I am art.
  25. I've lived as art my entire adult life.
  26. Living as art is how I became myself.
  27. I was brought up in a small village
    called Fillongley in England,
  28. and it was last mentioned
    in the "Domesday Book,"
  29. so that's the mentality.
  30. (Laughter)
  31. I was raised by my grandparents,
  32. and they were antiques dealers.
  33. So I grew up surrounded
    by history and beautiful things.
  34. I had the most amazing dress-up box.
  35. So as you can imagine,
  36. it started then.
  37. I moved to London when I was 17
    to become a model.
  38. And then I went to study photography.
  39. I wasn't really happy
    with myself at the time,
  40. so I was always looking for escapism.
  41. I studied the works of David LaChappelle
    and Steven Arnold,
  42. photographers who both curated
    and created worlds
  43. that were mindblowing to me.
  44. So I decided one day to crossover
    from the superficial fashion world
  45. to the superficial art world.
  46. (Laughter)
  47. I decided to live my life as a work of art.
  48. I spend hours, sometimes months,
    making things.
  49. My go-to tool is a safety pin,
  50. like this --
  51. they're never big enough.
  52. And I use my fabrics time and time again,
  53. so I recycle everything that I use.
  54. When I get dressed I'm guided
    by color, texture and shape.
  55. I rarely have a theme.
  56. I find beautiful objects
    from all over the world
  57. and I curate them into 3D tapestries
    over a base layer
  58. that covers my whole body shape...
  59. because I'm not very happy with my body.
  60. (Laughter)
  61. I ask myself, "Should I take
    something off
  62. or should I put something on?"
  63. 100 pieces maybe,
  64. and sometiems I do that.
  65. I promise you it's not too uncomfortable --
  66. well, just a little --
  67. (Laughter)
  68. I might have a safety pin
    poking me sometimes
  69. when I'm having a conversation with you,
  70. so I'll kind of go off --
  71. (Laughter)
  72. It usually takes me about
    20 minutes to get ready,
  73. which nobody every believes.
  74. It's true --
  75. sometimes.
  76. So, it's my version
    of a t-shirt and jeans.
  77. (Laughter)
  78. When I get dressed
    I build like an architect.
  79. I carefully place things
    until I feel they belong.
  80. Then I get a lot of my ideas
    from lucid dreaming.
  81. I actually go to sleep to come up
    with my ideas,
  82. and I've taught myself to wake up
    to write them down.
  83. I wear things until they fall apart,
  84. and then I give them a new life.
  85. The gold outfit for example
    is the outfit that I wore
  86. to the Houses of Parliament in London.
  87. It's made of armor, sequins and broken jewelry,
  88. and I was the first person
    to wear armor to Parliament
  89. since Oliver Cromwell banned it
    in the 17th century.
  90. Things don't need to be expensive
    to be beautiful.
  91. Try making outfits out of bin liners
    or trash you found out on the street.
  92. You never know,
  93. they might end up on the pages of Vogue.
  94. There's over 6,000 pieces in my collection,
  95. ranging from 2,000-year-old Roman rings
    to ancient Buddhist artifacts.
  96. I believe in sharing what I do
    and what I have with others,
  97. so I decided to create an art exhibition,
  98. which is currently traveling
    to museums around the world.
  99. It contains and army of me --
  100. life-size scultptures as you can see behind me,
  101. they're here --
  102. they are my life, really.
  103. They're 3D tapestries of my existence
    as living as art.
  104. They contain plastic crystals mixred with diamonds,
  105. beer cans and world silks all in one look.
  106. I like the fact that the viewer
    can never make the assumption
  107. of what's real and what's fake.
  108. I find it important to explore and share
    cultures through my works.
  109. I use clothing as a means to investigate
  110. and appreciate people from all
    over the world.
  111. Sometimes people think I'm a performer
    or a drag queen.
  112. I'm not.
  113. Although my life appears
    to be a performance,
  114. it's not.
  115. It's very real.
  116. People respond to me as they would
    any other type of artwork.
  117. Many people are fascinated and engaged.
  118. Some people walk around me,
    staring, shy at first.
  119. Then they come up to me and they say
    they love or absolutely hate what I do.
  120. I sometimes respond and other times
    I let the art talk for itself.
  121. The most annoying thing in the world
    is when people want to touch the artwork.
  122. Then I understand.
  123. But like a lot of contemporary art,
  124. many people are dismissive.
  125. Some people are critical,
  126. others are abusive.
  127. I think it comes from
    the fear of the different --
  128. the unknown.
  129. There are so many reactions to what I do,
  130. and I've just learnt not
    to take them personally.
  131. I've never lived
    as Daniel Lismore the person.
  132. I've lived as Daniel Lismore the artwork.
  133. And I've faced every obstacle as an artwork.
  134. It can be hard.
  135. Especially if your wardrobe takes up
    a 40-foot container,
  136. three storage units
  137. and 30 boxes from IKEA --
  138. (Laughter)
  139. and sometimes it can be very difficult
    getting into cars,
  140. and sometimes --
  141. well, this morning I didn't fit
    through my bathroom door,
  142. so that was a problem.
  143. (Laughter)
  144. What does it mean to be yourself?
  145. People say it all the time,
  146. but what does it truly mean?
  147. And why does it matter?
  148. How does life change when you choose
    to be unapolegetically yourself?
  149. I've had to face struggles and triumphs
    whilst living my life as art.
  150. I've been put on private jets
  151. and flown around the world.
  152. My work's been displayed
    in prestigous musuems
  153. and I've had the opportunity --
  154. that's my grandparents by the way --
  155. by the people that raised me --
  156. and there I am --
  157. (Applause)
  158. So I've been put on private jets,
  159. flown around the world
  160. and it's not been that easy
  161. because at times I've been homeless,
  162. I've been spat at,
  163. I've been abused, sometimes daily,
  164. bullied by entire life,
  165. rejected by countless individuals,
  166. and I've been stabbed.
  167. But what hurt the most was being put
    on the "Worst Dressed" list.
  168. (Laughter)
  169. It can be hard being yourself,
  170. but I've found it's the best way.
  171. There's the "Worst Dressed."
  172. (Laughter)
  173. As the quote goes, "Everyone else
    is already taken,"
  174. I've come to realize confidence
    is a concept you can choose.
  175. I've come to realize that authenticity
    is necessary and it's powerful.
  176. I've tried to spend time
    being like other people.
  177. It didn't work.
  178. It's a lot of hard work,
  179. not being yourself.
  180. I have a few questions for you all.
  181. Who are you?
  182. How many versions of you are there?
  183. And I have one final question:
  184. are you using them all
    to your advantage?
  185. In reality, everyone is capable
    of creating their own masterpiece.
  186. You should try it some time.
  187. It's quite fun.
  188. Thank you.
  189. (Applause and cheers)