This body of work includes video, sculptures, and works on paper that draw upon Catholic iconography, fetish theory, and Jean Genet’s novel Our Lady of the Flowers. Here ritualized reverence transfers to the materials of worship themselves – velvet, marble, the smell of warm wax – to the point that their mere presence invokes a visceral reaction. I recognized a kindred sensibility in Genet’s writing, in which communion, receiving the body of another into one’s own, is simultaneously described in its holiest and raunchiest contexts. The near naked body of a deity can do all kinds of things besides suffering, and a virginal vessel is bursting with the bloody wet mess of sex, menstruation, miscarriage, abortion, and childbirth.
The video Don’t Explain combines visuals inspired by sacred statuary with a soundtrack that applies the harmonics and repetition of monastic music to 20th century jazz standards. The lyrics of longing and guilt counter and complement the protagonist’s unflinching gaze toward the viewer and the heavens.
in memoriam Terry Adkins