Our Lady of the Flowers: Refracted
Opening 01.02.17 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.02.17 6-7pm
our lady of the flowers: refracted is the latest output from performance art vehicle Embittered Swish. A further development of their stage show, Our Lady of the Flowers, which took its cue from Jean Genet’s eponymous 1943 novel, Embittered Swish’s show at Firstdraft refracts the already-refracted show into the gallery space. Traces of past performances are considered in objects, altars, and debris devised and accumulated by participating artists, causing the ghosts of the immediate and more distant transgender past to resurface, confused. Haunting becomes an important form of refraction, and the gallery will be occupied by a durational soundscape through which fragments of poetry emerge. Costumes from the show, custom made by Melbourne-based label Rare Candy, are strewn around the space, hung up, possessed. Throughout February, artists from Embittered Swish will create a series of performance works in the gallery, teaming up with local artists to present mini-showings each Saturday night. Each performance will leave its own impact on the gallery, which accumulates the ghostly remains of novel, the show, and the bodies of performers and collaborators.
Embittered Swish will present an original performance work for our lady of the flowers: refracted at the exhibition opening, Wednesday the 1st of February. Showings of works with local artists will take place 4-6pm on Saturday the 11th and 18th, as well as the artists’ talks event on the 23rd.
Embittered Swish began as an artist conversation between performance maker Mick Klepner Roe and writer Cinnamon Templeton, responding to Jean Genet’s 1943 novel Our Lady of the Flowers. Working with actor Kai Bradley, the trio started making short works in late 2015 in response to the text, understanding it as a book about trans people, but also a trans narrative/form, their work as ‘trans’. Following performances at Transgenre 2016, For Fanny’s Sake, Short and Loud, and a residency at Performance Space, the group came to comprise Krishna Istha, Mossy Pebbles, Bobuq Sayed, and Romy Seven, as well as Mick and Cinnamon. Their stage show Our Lady of the Flowers debuted at La Mama Courthouse in October 2016, selling out its entire four-night season. Embittered Swish continues to develop a collective practice, recently performing at the Archer issue 7 launch, and now presenting a refraction of their stage show at Firstdraft. Throughout, Embittered Swish has tended towards a non-narrative performance style that allows for the multiplicity of their cultural backgrounds, gender expressions and artistic practices to be expressed. Combining poetry, music, and dance, Embittered Swish has the capacity to both haunt and arouse audiences.