|Charlie Murphy, Kiss In-Between (part of the Kiss-In)|
Murphy and her assistant Giuseppe Frusteri explain the process to each couple with a sense of playful, confident industry verging on the flirtatious. 1) The casting material will be spooned into your mouth immediately prior to kissing. 2) In order for the material to ‘fuse’ between partners, one must push it forward with one’s tongue (by extension, this is going to be a French kiss–albeit one mediated by putty—whether you like it or not—3) You have about 15 seconds in which to settle your hungry mouths into a fixed position, because after that the alginate will begin to harden and you should—to use a technical term—stop messin’ about. 4) The pose is held for roughly a minute and a half. This is the moment highlighted by a series of video documents looping away opposite Murphy’s workstation, a film of past smooches around the world, boy/girl, girl/girl, boy/boy, group kisses, dancing kisses, shy kisses, kisses so passionate Murphy has to step into frame and remind the participants that they’re supposed to stop moving those mouths. 5) Once the alginate has hardened sufficiently, you unlock your jaws and Murphy rushes in to midwife your kiss. As this little product of your union slips from between you it’s still relatively jelly-like, quivering in Murphy’s hands. For a moment it looks uncomfortably alien, until you regain your composure and look closely at your offspring. One thing’s for certain: this child will inherit your dental problems. Disconcertingly enough, when my partner and I contribute to Murphy’s collection of kisses, there is a professional dentist present. He examines the results before levelling his gaze at me and saying, “Don’t worry. I won’t give you my card,” deadpan, with the air of a man who thinks he should do just that. “Actually, you’re quite well matched”, he says, pointing to the meeting of teeth, “Look at that. That’s a nice intersection.” Yeah yeah yeah, I think. I bet you say that to all the kissers.
This is a truly durational work, a long-term project on Murphy’s part with a series of defined acts. The collection of moulds, the digital documentation and the paraphernalia surrounding it, the dental appointment cards, the surgical outfits Murphy and Frusteri wear: these are all preliminary stages in what will ultimately be a huge shiny kunstkammer of kisses. Each cast will be turned into a glass sculpture and exhibited—it is anticipated—in 2007. When you see your kiss ‘made flesh’ after the casting it adds depth to imagine that, somewhere along the line, it will form part of a massive display of erotic/comic/alien moments rendered transparent, with your moment, ‘your song’ lost somewhere in its midst, the light refracting through your loved one’s mouth and into your own. Who knows how many participants will attend to see a kiss from a relationship long gone, how many will see profound shapes beyond and within the glass? There will be fleeting kisses, flaunting kisses, angry kisses, Judas kisses, chaste kisses, fun kisses…and, of course, forgotten ones.
Kiss In-Between (part of the Kiss-In,) Charlie Murphy, Arnolfini bar Feb 2-3 and ongoing
Tim Atack is a musician, performer and writer living and working in Bristol. His band angel tech can be found at www.angeltech.co.uk
© Tim Atack; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org