Indulgent

Live performance, approx. 25mins, various locations, 2021.

The central action of Indulgent was shredding lavender stems between my fingers, crushing the pods, and inhaling their scent. This repetition explored memory, indulgence, and queer femme identity, and created an increasing pile of discarded pods that filled each venue with their scent. Driving the piece was a desperation to engage with pleasurable sensory stimuli after a year of digital overwhelm and lack of shared sensory experiences. ​Whilst using lavender had personal significance, it is well known for its calming, sedative properties - exploring 'soft femme' theory in my practice (contrary to my historical preoccupation with 'hard femme'), I intended each performance to soothe my audience, through scent and hypnotic repetition.

Varying in length depending on the number of stems I started with, and the fervor at which they're dismantled, the repeated performances left my fingertips raw and blistered. This, combined with the lightheadedness of deeply inhaling the pods, externalised rumination of past memories, the scent and tactility of lavender pleasing to start with, but intoxicating and destructive in excess.

Towards the end of each performance, I shook any pods left on my dress to the floor before leaving the space. The footprints left behind became a signifier of absence, even after the performance shaped by my body. In my written research on Live Art in gallery spaces, I've found galleries often view performance as a prelude to installation or sculpture made by the materials left behind - I resist this in my work by centering my body, and live action, as inseparable from how the materials are viewed post-performance. 

Artist Indigo Ayling was commissioned to document the final performance of Indulgent, as part of my ongoing exploration into alternative forms of documentation.

 

Indulgent was first performed at the exhibition Final, Not Over at Unit 1 Workshop Gallery, and later the exhibition A Thousand Normals at Tension Fine Art.

Images by Shou-An Chiang, Jamie Genovese and Ken Turner.

Paintings by Indigo Ayling.