While I was in Western Australia in the summer (winter) of 2014, the verdict for a prominent case was announced. An organic farmer’s canola crop had been contaminated by his neighbor’s genetically modified canola. He sued this neighbor, and the court came down against him. I interviewed a canola farmer who was growing conventional and genetically modified canola side by side, and a farmer who is decidedly against genetic modification. An exploration of communication and relationships in the context of environmental management. No GM canola pollen or seed was intentionally spread in the making of this film: I run through non-GM fields. Thanks to Perdita Phillips.
In Version 5 of the Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness, I built a gassing station for a uranium-reducing bacteria in the SymbioticA laboratory at the University of Western Australia, and crafted a performance for it using documentation of– and soil from– a Montebello Islands nuclear test site. I interviewed scientists from LaTrobe University working with the bacteria and asked them to re-perform moments from a movie referencing cold fusion. Within the scope of the work, I seek to draw connections between history, site, emotion, popular culture, and scientific research.
Re: (co)mplexity is a space for dialogue between Marissa Lee Benedict, Lindsey French, and myself. We come together to mindfully discuss overlapping interests in the complexities of sites, systems, ecologies, communication, and relevant histories. By immersing ourselves in conversation, we concurrently produce work that deconstructs and reassembles these dynamic realities.
The work that emerges from these exchanges is an active archive, a cache of video, sound, writing, and pertinent research. Drawing from our individual practices and perspectives, we collectively contribute to the archive. Portions of this repository are made public through an online platform, and generate exhibitions and live presentations. The Re: in Re: (co)mplexity refers to the acts of referencing, relating, revisiting, and researching from which the work develops.
In recognition of the complex landscape in which art operates, we consciously allow for cross-pollination within our individual practices and between resonant disciplines. The (co) in Re: (co)mplexity claims a process that is collaborative without being a collaboration: it is a co-mingling, a compiling, a cooperation.
Re: (co)mplexity is an investment in a more complicated understanding of the world.
Photos by David Reuter of the live event Re:sponse at Comfort Station.
I conducted a workshop version of Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness, culminating in a live performance, with the parishioners and community of the All Saints Episcopalian Church in Saugatuck, Michigan. The workshop was two weeks, and explored the grounds of the church retreat house as a site for Apologies and Forgiveness. Marissa Lee Benedict, Dulcee Bohem and Sarah Knutdson were also kind enough to come out and engage in discussion salons of their work as pertains to the environment.
Here’s a radio interview I gave with Father Cory Stoppel on Holland, Michigan’s “Talk of the Town” about the process.
Thanks to Cheryl, Kathy, Rocky, Persis and Caitlin.
I asked staff and fellows at Ox-Bow during the summer of 2013 to describe to me their favorite scenes in movies. Then I used those descriptions to prompt performances with the landscape, and spliced those moments into their own trailer. The expanded short film has been in exhibition at Womanmade Gallery in Chicago.
Frozen In>Tensities was a workshop with performance artists Vladkta Horvat, Joseph Ravens, and Kira O’Reilly, an exploration of performance methodologies. The participants in the workshop creates pieces in response to site, props and the Performance Department archives. The resultingexhibition at the Sullivan Galleries displayed artifacts and documentation of our work. Our public performances were programmed as part of the In>Time Performance Festival.
I created a piece called “Tracks & Trails” for the Out of Site Festival in Chicago. It’s a public address to volunteer/weed plants, interwoven with historic speeches and the ambient sounds of the overhead train. I used photographs from the Chicago History Museum and descriptions of Illinois weeds as performance prompts. Final performance was October 4th, 2013, 5-7pm, under the Damen Blue Line “L” tracks.
Rosie interviewed gardeners in Cardiff, Tanja designed a grown living space, and Lisa Woynarski, Bronwyn Preece and I developed a performance in response to both. It premiered in Cardiff at the World Stage Design Conference followed by an adaptation at the Central School for Speech and Drama’s Collisions Conference. We explored what it means to garden in a global and local sense.
image credits: Gisela Beer, Nigel Pugh
I was lucky enough to have been approached by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh to act in her short film Needle. The film maps a moment in time with a girl whose family is going through a divorce. The simple act of piercing her ears takes on greater meaning. I play the mother. The film recently won the Cannes Film Festival Cinefoundation Prize, the highest award for a student filmmaker, and has screened in many other film festivals.
“Moe Beitiks makes the mother quite human even if she is all germophobia and egotism”– Jay’s Movie Blog
“A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness” is an ongoing work in which I perform within a multimedia workspace, creating dialogues between uranium-reducing bacteria, accidents within the Manhattan Project, public apologies, the idea of safe distance, the words of a microbiologist, materials and cultural memes in an attempt to create a trans-human act.
In version 3, collaborator Sarah Knudtson and I ask members of an audience to stand in space according to a diagram of a Manhattan Project nuclear accident. While a clip depicting the accident from the film “Fat Man and Little Boy” plays, these participants are thrown spinach-seed infused seed bombs while Knudtson tapes out blast patterns on the floor. As Knudston sketches images pulled from Manhattan-Project research, I unpack site-specific ideas of safe distance, remediation and recovery. The audience is asked to read along with an interview of a scientist researching uranium-reducing bacteria and to breathe along to a clip of John Cusack. The performance is a half-hour long non-linear journey through the modern meanings of nuclear toxicity, error, our expanded implication and potential collective recovery.
Part of “A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness,” An ongoing work in which I perform within a multimedia workspace, creating dialogues between uranium-reducing bacteria, accidents within the Manhattan Project, public apologies, the idea of safe distance, the words of a microbiologist, materials and cultural memes in an attempt to create a trans-human act.
“Act of Research v.1″ is the creation of a benign bomb. Bomb creation is set to a scene from the 1989 film “Fat Man and Little Boy,” in which a nuclear accident is fictionalized. I appropriate imagery and presence from the film in an attempt to create, as Kris Lenz wrote in Fnews, “an alternative reality where art, science and drama meet at a crossroads. In this version, the outcome is not an ecological disaster that could take millions of years to remediate, but instead a conversation where awareness of environmental concerns and solutions are raised and disseminated.”
In “Car-E-Oke,” you can choose the make and model of a car and sing along to its exhaust sounds. Regular engine noises have fun karaoke subtitles. But there’s a catch: the sound system is bike-powered. Visitors are encouraged to hop on the bike and “pedal-power” the PA. In addition, I bike every other day of the exhibition, wearing bike shorts, a sequined top, shiny sunglasses, and a fanny pack that emitted sound tracks from classic car chase movies. The sound of the car engine is acknowledged as a kind of soundtrack to our lives.
The Experimental Station had a stack of broken chairs. I fixed half the chairs and asked for input from the community as to how I should fix chairs performatively. Then I fixed chairs performatively.
Wear a dress with flowers– Liz Lyon, market volunteer
Wear your hair back, no makeup– Danny White, market vendor
Play music with a rhythm you can fix chairs to– Corey Chatman, LINK manager
The only lighting should be a flashlight– Elizabeth Gadelha, market vendor
You should fix chairs on the floor– Marley Darvassy, son of B’Gabs’ Vegan Deli
I think you’re the “Chairy Godmother.”– Danny Burke, Market Manager
Sing or hum when you have a tool in your hand. — Dan Peterman, co-founder of Experimental Station
Move furtively– Connie Spreen, Co-founder of Experimental Station
Start out with a hopscotch– Chris Allen, Bike Shop Manager
Rambox is a piece exploring detoxification, self-healing and nature. It has been performed at the Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn, NY, Hyde Park Art Center and Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery. I drink seven Master Cleanses in the space of fifteen minutes while breathing along with a clip from Rambo III.
The NATO summit in Chicago is happening right now. Back in February, NATO ISAF Commander General John Allen apologized for the ignorant actions of his coalition soldiers. So I apologize for my own ignorance. And emailed this video to the ISAF.
I’m currently in Moscow for the First International Science Art Conference and Exhibition. Sanseveria Trifasciata re-created its performance of The Plant is Present here, with the help if Liliya Lifanova. and I gave a short presentation on the work and its relationship to that of Marina Abramovich. More photos, as well all pictures of everyone who sat with the plant, coming soon.
This was my contribution to Low Lives: Occupy! on March 3, 2012. Alan Greenspan admitted the flaws in his philosophy. So I apologize for demonizing him.
Just as Marina Abramovic had her superfan, so Sanseviera Trafasciata had one, as well. The gentleman visited 3 times over two days, often sitting at length and talking to the plant. We could venture a guess as to which notes in the comment book were his, but there was a distinct handwriting that praised the plant’s “conversational” quality. For other fascinating notes and stories, read on, as the task of transcribing the mammoth amount of written feedback continues. There’s even more– and a VIDEO of the superfan– after the jump.
“La Suegra, We meet again! Mom gave me a piece of you when Eugenie & I moved in together. Said I would need it. Boy did I! You out grew my herbs & even adapted around the weeds. Your sharp & a bitch of a fighter! That’s what mom meant when she said I’d need you. I’m glad you wear the black gown. With all the negativity in your life & yet you thrive. Like my suegra. Like me. I look forward to having you in my garden again. This time you’ll have a permanent place in the sun, but you just have to wait a few more years! Thanks for everything, la suegra. — Geanna M.H.”
The second day of “The Plant is Present” was a bit slower, and the plant spent some time alone. But more than 50 people still found time to sit and have a moment with The Plant. Again, here’s a link to a flickr album of everyone who sat on the second day. There were several people, 6 or 7 at my count, that chose to talk to the plant. At least two people over the course of two days had sat with both The Plant and Marina Abramovic, of “The Artist is Present” fame. One sitter described the prolific documentation as part of the intensity of sitting with Marina. The other, I’m fairly certain, is responsible for this comment in the plant’s book: “Marina was exactly as interesting.” No one cried sitting in front of the plant, but plenty looked intrigued, bored, amused and joyful. So does a plant have the same presence as an artist? Read on for sitter’s first-hand accounts of the experience. Continues after the jump, for a long time.
“I have never sat with a dressed plant before. It was very nice. I had a good time.”
“The lights were distracting, the plant beautiful”
“She is SEXY and REAL”
“The plant was present. The weather intensifies the energy received from the plant.”
We knew rain was a risk, and that it wouldn’t be a problem for our starring artist. But just in case, we brought an umbrella and a blanket for potential guests. We had all electrical connections taped, and the vulnerable areas wrapped in plastic bags. Still, there reached a point in the evening when we were forced to turn on the ambient outdoor light and break down our lighting setup. The public continued to sit with the plant. After it cleared up we put one lone light back up. As a result, the portraits of guests vary as the weather varies. Some are shot in performer lighting; some are shot in blaring fluorescent outdoor lighting; some are dramatically lit from one lone light; and at least one portrait was taken in complete darkness.
Look for a later post containing a full transcription of the lovely comment book. In the meantime, here’s a flickr stream of everyone who sat with the plant on the first evening: November 19th, 2011. Some selected portraits and a video below, after the jump.
Sansevieria Trifasciata, an epic houseplant, performed its work “The Plant is Present” at the School of the Art Institute’s New Blood Performance Festival, November 19th and 20th, 2011. The plant sat silently while a total of 138 visitors took turns sitting in a chair opposite it, staying in its presence for as long as they liked. All guests were photographed, and asked to record their experience in a comment book. Responses ranged from “I felt a connection to the plant and was able to live in the moment” to “It was awkward” to “So good! I loved every second of it!” to “Marina was exactly as interesting.” Check back later for more documentation, a full transcription of the comment book and photos of all 138 visitors to the plant.
Sansevieria trifasciata is an epic houseplant. Often referred to as “the plant that won’t die,” it is famous for thriving on neglect. Commonly called Mother in Law’s Tongue for its sharp leaves, or Snake Plant for its winding tendrils, S. trifasciata is one of the top 50 plants that clean the air, converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at night, and has historically been used to create bowstring hemp. In short, its creative career is one of tenacity and self-sacrifice. I will be giving a lecture on the phenomenal artistic accomplishments of this plant at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Nov. 14th, 4:30pm, 2M space, MacLean Bldg) before the plant performs a solo work called “The Plant is Present” at this year’s New Blood Performance festival.