_Documentation of the multimedia
installation "Trans Pose" in the "Disruptive
Stillness" a show curated by John Kannenberg and Meghan Reynard in the
Jean Paul Slusser Gallery at the School of Art & Design, University
of Michigan, 8-28 January, 2011.
An eight by eight foot steel square stands vertically in space; its inner surface area a taut yet vulnerable screen. The matte yet translucent fabric shrouds the space beyond it in a light mist. Over the course of 1 ½ weeks a performer dips hundreds of threads in charcoal and pierces the screen in a pattern of approximated square spaces marked by the threads’ placement. The threading is gradually and methodically performed until the entire surface area of the screen is filled. The plane itself creating a sudden division between taut organization and chaotic entropy.
The threads are not static however. On the far side of the mediating screen the performer sits and begins to pull one thread at a time creating the tension of a stringed instrument or pulled hair. The threads do not resist but slide through and succumb to being looped around each other in a new form of organization: They are pulled from their isolated passage through the screen and integrated into a garment that eventually (over the remaining 1 1/2 weeks of the exhibition), envelopes the performer like a layer of skin.
The threads leave a black, powdery residue on the pristine white screen. Charcoal swirls hover momentarily over the penetrating thread each time it is pulled another few inches, articulating the slow curls of air movement in the otherwise stillness. The soot is scraped off the thread as it traverses spilling down the side of the fabric leaving a stain, a shadow of their passage.
“Trans” is the first occasion that I used time to talk about belonging. The space, as divided by the sculptural elements and animated by the live performance, was a way to talk about the tendency to organize, communicate, and re-present the human experience in the form of diametrically opposing forces. Black/white, either/or, foreigner/native, “Us”/ “Them,” are the poles to which we gravitate in order to take comfort in times of uncertainty. What I wasn’t able to articulate was the broad area of grey that described the experience of standing between one side and the other. In Trans, the matter moved through, left its mark and became whole on the other side. I soon realized that the screen is where I stood.