Wreckage

Wreckage

created 13 July 2008

Some aspects of this piece, particularly the performance version, are inspired by Catherine Albrand’s performance on 12 July. Although my topic is different, there are resonances in the actions. After seeing her work last night, I woke up with this image of how to express an idea that has been clamoring for release for a while.

The piece can be created at various levels of complexity:

  1. Two photographs
  2. Two photographs with audio track of what happens between the first and second photo
  3. Video of the process and the aftermath in a larger context
  4. Live performance art with audience involvement

First image – frame is filled with an open carton of eggs. Each egg has a word written on it in this sequence:

love trust job career savings future
home family community country identity life

Second image – all the eggs except the last one, ‘life’, have been smashed into the carton. The word ‘betrayal’ has been written inside the lid.

This is sufficient to communicate the idea. Expansions and enhancements can be done as follows:

Optional audio track – the sounds of each egg smashing as the word is recited. The tone of voice becomes angrier each time.

Optional visual enhancement – an intermediate photo after each egg is smashed. In this case, add a final image of ‘thanks for the memories‘ written on tissue and draped over the wreckage. The still images could be made into an animation or photo montage with 13 images showing the eggs progressively smashed.

Video version – be sure to use non-toxic pens to write the words. Create the video at the beach, starting with the initial presentation of the egg carton on the rocks. Camera is static, egg carton almost fully filling the frame (the person is not seen, only the hand briefly moving into frame to pick up the eggs). Smash each egg in turn, saying the words as before. Pick up the last egg and hold it in hand for close-up, then replace it in the carton. The tissue drifts down on top, ‘Thanks for the memories’. Camera pulls back to get the context. Seagulls come in to eat the remains of the egg.

The word ‘Betrayal’ has been written in heavy black marker inside the carton, where the eggs are. As each egg is removed from the carton, the word is progressively revealed, but also to some extent covered up by the egg debris. Test this first to make sure it works well enough for the word to be read by viewers. I would rather not start with the word fully revealed in the first image, written inside the lid. Could also drift down a tissue with ‘betrayal’ instead of the ‘thanks for the memories’.

Performance version – Involve the audience in writing their own words on the eggs, what is important, what things they would not want to lose (inspired by Catherine’s having the audience write names on stones). If any of the twelve ideas on the list above are not generated spontaneously by the audience, add them before smashing the eggs (start with two dozen eggs). If done in performance, it would have to be contextualised with other pieces from the journals of Rrose Sélavy. Please note that I am inclined to leave any implementation of the performance art version to performance artists.

Ghosts exorcised.

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