From December 2015 to March 2016 I co-produced a project called In Parting Glass. It was a collaboration with Italian choreography Riccardo Buscarini and curator Holly Knox Yeoman. The exhibition took place in Summerhall’s Laboratory Gallery in Edinburgh.
Pam Fist Heart
At the beginning of the collaboration I was working on the above object/sculpture, which I called Pam Fist Heart. It consisted of magnets encased in three pieces of air-drying clay. Each piece was roughly the size of my own first. Therefore each piece was also roughly the size of my own heart.
Pam Fist Heart, for me, was a perfect starting point for the exhibition. Its structure and balance relied on magnetism alone. I chose to reveal its precariousness further by displaying it on a mirror. Furthermore, if the structure fell apart it would have smashed the mirror.
Summerhall’s Laboratory Gallery is full of glass display cabinets. The gallery’s main feature is its three large cabinets. I was able to place Pam Fist Heart within one of these cabinets and close the glass sliding door. Consequently, this meant it was away from the reach of visitors in order to limit its chance of falling down.
I put together a text that related to the sculpture and its precariousness. The text was used to compile a sound piece. Riccardo then responded to the sound to create movement for a performance on the opening night of the exhibition.
I then displayed further objects within the same cabinet. All of the objects related somehow to memories and I turned these into performance-ready texts. The cabinets became conduits for such memories to be revealed in a semi-archival fashion.
Your best computer monitor base
I also presented a sound piece in form of an audio story at In Parting Glass. I called it Aliases for a Reason. The story was written during a residency at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop earlier in 2015.
I based the narrative for Aliases for a reason on experiences of attending a Radical Faerie gathering. Its subject matter featured the goings on of people who needed to have aliases in order to become other-ed for a reason, during a very intense period of queer togetherness. This process of othering was largely due to sexuality and gender identity.
To make a physical connection to my experience of the gathering, I chose to use a computer monitor base from an old desktop computer. Such an object was designed to carry a lot of weight. Indeed it could take the load of a lot of dial-up Internet exposure. Especially when you seek to hide your curiosity, as an adolescent gay, from your family.
In Parting Glass an endgame performance
We produced new performances to round up the three-month exhibition.
We called them a “fluid suite of spoken word and physical responses […] to previously concealed or unexplained elements of the exhibition.”
As the exhibition was drawing to a close we wanted to transform and share our memories. The performances involved the audience members. They wore white archive gloves, handled objects and read with us (in their heads) from printed texts.
In a final parting of glass
At the beginning of the collaboration we noticed a dead bee in one of the smaller Laboratory Gallery cabinets. For the final performance we lined up the audience members. We then opened the cabinet, lifted out the dead bee, and passed it along the line.
The image below shows an object of mine that I called Nivea for Men. We used and re-moulded Nivea for Men to encase the bee within its final resting place.