Don’t raise your eye
It’s only teenage wasteland
Pete Townshend, Baba O’Riley
I remember massive, red dirt mounds, the byproduct of ‘new-ness’ that seemed to signify something as potent as an egg about to hatch. Incomplete but habitable houses, in fresh subdivisions, in brand new suburbs, marked out by the rust coloured piles shoveled to the perimeter.
These mounds were a site for throning oneself, for staring out into a choice of undeveloped bushland in one direction or back to the established town in the other. They were places to gain independence and some privacy before school or around teatime, at the darker, bookends of the day. Maybe you would share a sneaky cig and swap heady and naive, adolescent divination; the sort of thing that might predict a future destiny (rock star, leader of an alien investigation task squad, world’s best hairdresser) or lover (rock star, pop star, porn star, that guy/girl whose dad owns the shop where you buy your chips). These mounds became sites of aspiration and of fantasy.
In the name of the suburb, and of the dirt and of the feral cat,
Here the mounds are transposed indoors and the adolescents are the imaginary male alter egos of three female artists. Instead of imagining themselves as famous musicians or movie stars, these egos instead imagine themselves into the cornerstone of catholic doctrine: Capital G, God, his half-human son, Jesus and that mysterious bird, the Holy Ghost. And why not?
In a spirit of pure fun, the trappings of the faith are translated with a camp and juvenile ad-hoc flair. The focus of the site is the grotto of the Virgin Mary, the previously unsullied mother of Christ, who opens her blue marshmallow robe to display six breasts like a beast in a strange marriage of Coney Island freak-booth and an Amsterdam shop window. She bears the scars of having been toasted and served up to the faithful in gooey lumps scooped onto popsicle sticks. Served up by masked pussycat alterboys (better behaved than feral), I can tell you now she was sickly sweet but not entirely unsatisfying.
At the opposite end of the room in place of a confessional stands a hut made of cardboard boxes, where inside one can ‘relieve oneself’ (in private and by candlelight) of sinful thoughts with the aid of a ‘girls with guns’ magazine and a blurred, obscure video of a female figure disrobing. Oh look it’s Jesus! Wank for Jesus! He’s got tits too and he’s all flesh.
In his physical form he roams the space in a black gimp suit, his intestines outlined in a flesh coloured felt (he always was a little desperate to prove, wasn’t he?).
I’m human too guys, see guys, just like you.
But wait.. aren’t you either the son of God or a cyst that grew legs…?
Another video depicts the Holy Ghost floating and gesturing its owl-headed way through the universe, its many-phallused collar there to penetrate you, to open you up to Gods word. It floats around like an old Stevie Nicks video. Stevie Nicks – with dicks.
God on the other hand is all about God. All beard and cloudy arms he’s a show-off dazzling us with rainbows and lightning, endlessly impressed with his own skill. As he inhabits the space, his desire to pop a wheelie is almost palpable.
In the name of the Bearded, and of the Gimp and of the Bird-Headed Hippie,
The Trinity come together on occasion to patrol the space on pink dirt-bikes and communicate through electronic voice boxes mounted inside the heads of feral cats on frighteningly wired wristbands. High tinny voices scream at you to ‘get off the dirt’ and remind you that you are just a visitor here. But you may stay to admire their work; the rainbow made of fence palings and tree branches and the glowing rain cloud made of plastic milk-bar straws that releases a static rain of glue-string. There is even a satellite dish made of cardboard and fairy lights to draw prayer from the ether.
Here is a universe and a theology created on site. But remember, this is not really the Godhead. It is three young boys pretending to be the Godhead as evidenced by the ornamental aesthetic of skulls and guns that litter the dirt. But this is not really three young boys. It is three women pretending to be three boys pretending to be the Godhead and the presence of these three women is still felt in the retro 80’s aesthetic (the era of their own adolescence for the most part). The fairy-floss pinkness of the bikes, the marshmallow and the cats and the rainbow itself, which immediately evokes sickly (but highly desirable at the right age) Lisa Frank stationary and scented erasers – all these speak strongly of ‘girl’.
It’s an identity matroyshka. We begin rooted in reality with the Arthead (three female artists) nested cosily within the fantasy identity of the Dickhead (three adolescent boys) who are in turn enclosed by the colourful outer shell of the Godhead (the three pronged cosmic deity driving the universe).
Sally, take my hand…
OK, I’m up for it.
In the name of the Artists and of the Boys and of the Cosmic Engine,
Sally Rees, October 2009
This text was commissioned by CAST for the 1200CC Mary catalogue.
1200CC Mary continues at CAST Gallery until November 8, 2009.