Since Thursday February 15, I've been working on a residency/installation in the window gallery of The Dirt Palace in Olneyville Square. I'm pleased to announce that you can see it fully installed until Wednesday March 14.
The work is called HOST, partly because I felt like I was well hosted by Pippi Zornoza and Xander Marro and the women who call the Dirt Palace home, but also because I feel that hospitality is at the foundation of all my artwork, definitely all my theatre work.
I also remembered hearing a radio interview with a scientist describing the process by which caterpillars transform into butterflies; there is no actual transformation from one creature to the other. If you were to split a cocoon open in the middle of a pupa's process, you would find neither caterpillar nor butterfly, but rather a goo, made from the engorged caterpillar, upon which the nascent butterfly feeds. The caterpillar essentially hosts the building blocks of the butterfly, called imaginal disks or cells, and is ultimately consumed by them. I identified completely with being in the goo, no longer one creature and not yet the beautiful pollinator I'm named after (Vanessa is a genus of butterfly that includes the species of Painted Ladies and Red Admirals.) So, I used the window as a residency space, posting working hours and building the parts of the installation while cocooned in the window.
For 14 days I visited the window and worked on objects, short videos, and writings that figure in the final installation. A caterpillar takes between 10-14 days to go through its larval stages, and another 10-14 days to transform into a butterfly; the duration felt right. I logged my time IN and my time OUT, as well as the temperature that day, and how many people passing by actually acknowledged me working by greeting me, as well as the number of visits I received. I would set up my webcam and work in Jitter and document my labors. For the people who walked by during the time I was not in the window, I left a monitor playing that day's video. In that way, there was always work happening in the window. I rolled out long sheets of paper and wrote on them- about what I love about Providence, about what it feels like to be in the proverbial goo, and copying out some remarkable text about evolutionary biology and how identity is a process. Once inscribed, I cut swooping shapes out of the paper, rendering them into butterfly wings, ready for me to assume, once I've popped out of the cocoon. The cut paper remains in the space, evidence of the work that has taken place.
The installation is on view, 24 hours a day, through Wednesday March 14, when I'll clear it out. If you aren't able to see it in person, stand by for a gallery of images that I'll load up to my website.
And if you are the kind of person who enjoys bibliographies and source materials, know that I am very tickled and inspired by the work of Sophie Calle and Yayoi Kusama and this work, HOST, is very indebted to Jen Long for the introduction to the concept and reality of Imaginal Cells. You can read about them HERE and also about how evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris considers these cells important, HERE.
Many Thanks to Pippi Zornoza, Xander Marro, and the denizens of the Dirt Palace for hosting me for this cold month in the window. Additional thanks to the Providence Department of Art, Culture & Tourism for supporting the window activities.