Performance of abjection, audio track ca.11min, voice over, graffiti on school wall with power drill
With Valentina Miorandi performing the student body
Presented during ‘The Kitchen not the Restaurant’ session of Summer 2016, Dutch Art Institute (NL)
This is the second performative act as part of the proposition Last Will and Testament and in the context of my Master years as artist and student at the DAI. It’s a performance for the audience of the school body that renew the intention of bequeathing the body of my artistic work to the school, while also enumerating the legal obstacles I encounter in advancing it, first the binding of any legitimate dispositions for the afterlife to my children, my reproductive obligations.
Oppositional forces are complicating in fact my attempt at mutating the relationship between the student and the school into one of testatrix and beneficiary, as the Law advances a request of genealogy: my children must not be disinherited from whatever I have that I want to bequeath.
An audio track recounts these limitations and how they oblige me to think how to reverse a testament into a statement – from a proposition in need of witnesses, to a declaration leaving a mark that is proof of my intention to bond intimately with my chosen beneficiary, the school.
The tone of the audio reveals a certain urgency to construct an intimacy with the physical and representative bodies of the school. However, the action unfolding in front of the audience depicts an image of stillness and abjection with my student body, laying on the floor of a semi dark room, hooded and facing down in meditation pose.
The performative act insists on the wilfulness of a subject called to respond to requirements of identity and recognition imposed in the redaction of a last will and testament: a sound mind, a heteronormative arrangement of blood ties, a patrimony with value to leave behind. But the audio addresses the accountability of the subject speaking and puts in question its relationship with the process of personification induced in the performative act. In fact, the device of the voice diffused in space allows to separate the speaking I from the student body to whom the pronoun seems to be referring and belonging.
A process of disembodiment and detachment is enacted, and the student body is not my body, or the body of the subject making claims and speaking in first person about engaging with the institution in a promise. This nonetheless serves to bring the attention of the audience to devices of personhood and personification. Slowly the audio starts implying and suggesting that my voice is transmitting live from another hidden location in the school, where I am inscribing the desire of leaving my bequeathment of art to the school – Art to DAI – into the wall of the school.
Reverting the function of a testament, the gesture of marking and inscribing with a drill my desire reflects on the historical formation of last will and testaments as marks left in a hurry as ultimate declarations. Amplified in the ‘quiet room’ where the body is staging its own abjection, the sound of the power drill becomes a clue for identifying that the artist is not there. In a final moment of reconciliation that closes the act, I enter the room and invite Valentina the student body to stand up.