3-hour performance with Steven Sharpe
Commission for "The Secret Language of Flowers"; Andipa Contemporary; Knightsbridge, London. 2011
Flowers are the sexual organs of a plant, and their sole purpose and function is to effect reproduction. Of the sensuality they evoke, Octave Mirbeau (1899) wrote:
"Being perfect artists and ingenuous poets, the Chinese have piously preserved the love and holy cult of flowers; one of the very rare and most ancient traditions which has survived their decadence. And since flowers had to be distinguished from each other, they have attributed graceful analogies to them, dreamy images, pure and passionate names which perpetuate and harmonize in our minds the sensations of gentle charm and violent intoxication with which they inspire us. So it is that certain peonies, their favourite flower, are saluted by the Chinese, according to their form or color, by these delicious names, each an entire poem and an entire novel: The Young Girl Who Offers Her Breasts, or: The Water That Sleeps Beneath the Moon, or: The Sunlight in the Forest, or: The First Desire of the Reclining Virgin, or: My Gown Is No Longer All White Because in Tearing It the Son of Heaven Left a Little Rosy Stain; or, even better, this one: I Possessed My Lover in the Garden." – The Torture Garden, Chapter 5.
In Greek mythology, Paeonia was a shy nymph who - whilst gathering flowers in a meadow - caught Apollo’s eye. He was entranced by her beauty and ravished her at once. Abashed by his ardor, Paeonia averted her gaze - and caught sight of Venus regarding them with great severity. Paeonia blushed hotly and in that moment was turned into the flower that still bears her name, as well as her blush.
My partner and I pass a long silk ribbon - bearing Mirbeau’s text - back and forth between our lips, meeting time and again in a kiss. Viewers read the text as they would a classical Chinese scroll, one segment at a time.
* All images courtesy of Andipa Contemporary *
photos by: CJ Turner