A Love Song
Whenever I have a small wound, maybe a pin prick or a scab that I’ve peeled off too soon, I watch the blood blossom, slightly delayed, out of it. I press on the wound firmly, until the skin around it goes white, then release my finger and enjoy the redness flooding back into my flesh. I like witnessing my body’s processes like this, an enormous collage of pores and veins and follicles. I think about these processes a lot during my encounter with Laura Duffy’s Garden of Purity, open your mouth wide and I will fill it: rawness of clipping nails too far, rubbing crusted tears out of your eyes in the morning, coughing up phlegm and having to swallow it back. Decay, life, organic matter are all important to Garden of Purity.
Garden of Purity is installed in the Courtenay Place lightboxes, but also consists of a series of longer videos online, at gardenofpurity.space, which were hosted at MEANWHILE for one night only. The project is described by MEANWHILE as exploring ideas of Catholicism, abjection, advertising, and queerness, and considering the links between art history and mass media. My laptop is not powerful enough to play the videos properly, but this adds a clunky and distorted layer to the moistness of the imagery. I cannot be a passive viewer, as the limits of technology make me constantly aware of the fact of my viewing. I become conscious of my viewing behaviours, my impatience, my desire for immersion.
The basis of the imagery is from edible material that Duffy has sourced. Think of rituals that involve food, a wafer placed on the tongue, breaking bread. An apple, plucked, bitten. This presentation of edible material does not look like something that can be eaten though, but something that has been consumed, digested. An intimate look at the systems of the body — can you get any closer to someone than when you have seen the inside of them? Someone told me about a man who watched his wife have her organs taken out and put on a surgical tray next to the operating table. True romance. Is the inside of the body sexy? Can it still be sexualised? Can you put a beating heart on a billboard and use it to sell a bikini? Maybe making something absolutely graphic means it can no longer be explicit. Zooming in on sex, on its fluids and frictions makes it more scientific, or maybe more erotic. open your mouth wide and I will fill it conjures sexual innuendo. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it — with a cock, spit, cum, piss. The idea of kinks. Who can say what is deviant? Normal sex/abnormal sex. Advertising tries to convince us that there is a fixed notion of desirability and sexiness, based on heteronormativity. Adam and Eve. Garden of Purity, sanctity and sinless. Blackened, the apple falls. Decay signals life, but decay is also the end of a life. The limpet-like facets of Duffy’s work breathe in and out.
- Jane Walace, Salient.