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THE BODY IN QUESTION: SPILL


Gender, genitalia & the old hand-in-hand

Cat Jones, SPILL Festival of Performance, London

Cat Jones is an artist, writer and curator based in Sydney. Supported by a Creative Australia Fellowship, she is currently investigating human-plant relationships through botanic science, art and social history research.

Walking: Holding, Rosana Cade Walking: Holding, Rosana Cade
photo Rosie Healey
Pacitti Company’s SPILL Festival is two weeks of sensorial encounter where the personal, political and mythological are transferred through the bodies of performers and audience. Sixteen of the 25 works are by women. The following three shots glide from wide, mid to hand-held, close-ups of the gendered, queer world we live in. If this opening has a certain eau de pussy, it’s an invitation to read on, not necessarily a warning.

Lauren Barri Holstein, Splat!

Splat! is the sound of 100 tomato juice filled balloons thrown and burst on a knife’s edge clutched by The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein’s vagina (insert handle first if you want to try this at home). It’s the sound of douche and douche again all over the chest and mouth of someone you care about. Give me a towel.

It’s a deconstructed post-fairytale in a forest inhabited by zombie Woodland Friends, where Bambi, canal birthed in a condom placenta, trophy mounted, rollerskates blindly through emissions, urinates near the vomit, near the target, on twins and hangs as a slaughtered carcass stuffing a burger in her cake hole. It’s a feminine schlock technical rehearsal on a closed Hollywood set with The Famous calling her own stage cues and requesting repeats. It’s a tower of cliché, ideology, genres and dispassionate delivery that might make you choke, with laughter.

You are shunted from wince to cringe to clenched sphincter then leant towards a performance precipice and asked with a hand held mike, “How do you feel emotionally, right now?” She has to go harder because you can’t feel it anymore. Do it again.

Splat! straddles porn, gets bulimic at the microphone, cleans and sticks the unstickable with tape. Its frame has a weft that might muddle your expectations of the next brown-eyed money shot—the sluiced mountain of images is planted with tender instructions, sensitive ballet pointe ballads, the full, uncensored, itemised budget for the show and the soft silence of long blonde hair clippings snowing gently down. Put that back together.

It’s a vulnerability fuck-over and The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein is in control.

Lucy Hutson, If You Want Bigger Yorkshire Puddings…

Lucy Hutson is the kind of cooking companion who makes her own personal recipe. In If You Want Bigger Yorkshire Puddings You Need a Bigger Tin she mixes sexual politics with a family focus group, body identity and a biography of gendered experiments into a disarming dish served as a dialogue between documentary video and contemporary performance, with the lights on.

In an era where queer women debate the actual choice made by younger women in transition, rather than the right to choose, Lucy Hutson offers a home-made brand of good old fashioned asexual identity that is delightful and refreshing.

In the same way you can make a food comparison by asking if your grandmother would recognise it, Lucy approaches gender transition by preparing to run it past the ladies at the Women’s Institute. No snips and no tucks, just a ball of wool, a roll of cling wrap, a shot of self-acceptance and the courage to live with fuzzy edges. The Women’s Institute would be proud.

Rosana Cade, Walking: Holding

I dare to keep my eyes closed on a busy London road and anticipate each swirl of density coming towards me as the moment Walking: Holding will begin. Rosana Cade’s delicate, cold fingers take mine for a walking story of same sex, mixed ethnicity, fag hag and other couples.

Cade and her serial strollers lead us through personal experiences to the point where self-consciousness can invade intimacy and hands meeting below the hip divide.

Rosana’s stroll takes us to an ironwork sign, “LADIES.” I walk with a young, cross-dressed man in a sweet floral blouse, flats and a touch of lippy, down a small dirty street where big men manhandle large tools. I’m released between a van and a tag wall where anticipation and ankles tip awkwardly on a pile of rubble. It’s funny how many loaded frames there are in nondescript locations. I hold the hand of a man whose story makes me clutch it. I stop breathing. This is close. We recover when he asks for, and I offer, something of my own that raises his eyebrows. We part at a sheened wall where the close reflection of our coded couple is joined to make three before it becomes a new two.

These walks take you past public displays of affection, and more: from the throwaway indulgence for heterosexual, Caucasian-matched, western couples, to the erosive emotional fallout of hand division for others and intimacy rarely touched between strangers.

Do you think we make a happy couple on these strange streets?


SPILL Festival of Performance 2013, producer Pacitti Company, London, 3-14 April

Cat Jones is an artist, writer and curator based in Sydney. Supported by a Creative Australia Fellowship, she is currently investigating human-plant relationships through botanic science, art and social history research.

RealTime issue #115 June-July 2013 pg. 11

© Cat Jones; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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