Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Performance Persona

Our first assignment in Ling-Wen Tsai's Beginning Performance class was to create a persona and document it with photographs. I had bought this 30's house dress that summer and decided that I would wear it for this series of pictures, and play the role of my father's mother, Mary Elizabeth. My grandmother died when I was 5 years old, so I have only a vague memory of her. My father always told me that I resembled her. I posed for this series in my yard in Woolwich, and my daughter Kaitlyn took the photographs.

Around this time I had heard Gail Sheehy, author of the book Passages, speak on the radio about menopause. She claimed that it is the birth of the second half of a woman's life, and that women's brains actually get restructured during menopause, away from being programmed for reproduction toward new interests and renewed energy. These photos have to do with that death of the old self and birth of the new.

In the first two photos I am sitting in a truck that was burned in the barn fire that destroyed my studio and thirty years of my work in 2002. It looks like some wild space ship - I like how I seem to be emerging from the wreckage...

I continued to use this persona in my first performance, Woman Hanging Wash.

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