Production stills, FIGUREHEAD 2010, Performance. Wooden construction, 23 ct gold leaf, honey and text, crow feathers, rope, stainless steel bowls with honey and extra virgin olive oil, flour, found objects, water. 4 June 2010,
De Zwarte Ruiter Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
FIGUREHEAD This performance explores the concept of a ‘figurehead’ through a combination of text, action and gesture. A figurehead is commonly defined as the head of an organization (such as the state, a corporation and so on) that functions largely as a symbolic figure of power. Nonetheless, the word actually derives from the practice of placing a carved or cast sculpture over the cutwater of a ship.
With the help of De Zwarte Ruiter, I constructed a space in the entrance to the gallery whereby its corner would suggest something like the prow of a ship. For the performance I would transform myself into a figurehead. In turn, the audience was transformed into passengers aboard the vessel for the duration of the performance. I also wrote three fictional texts in which the figurehead speaks of its experiences whilst at sea.
The figurehead enters into conversation with two other entities aboard the ship, (the captain and the person manning the crow’s nest) whilst looking into the horizon and crossing the oceans.
For the performance itself I repeated a sequence of events three times: First I washed my hands with water and salt. I then climbed the stairs towards the prow, collecting honey and oil in each hand that I would siphon off into a metal container on the small platform. During this process I would recite excerpts from the texts that I had written on the wall covered in honey and gold leaf. The honey and oil would become mixed and flow through a hole in the platform onto the large rope construction hanging directly below. Eventually the oil and honey started spreading on the gallery floor.
Each sequence of actions took approximately 5 minutes to complete.
ek het geen vlees nog bloed
tog vlek die koel bries wel my vel
terg speels aan bolwange met wille spatsels sout en water
aan goud en murg en been so strak gevang in blik-des-voorts
’n logge windryer wat smag
na die smokkelfontein
van liters liefdeswater
wat so oor krans en berg
vir ewig bly stroom
of watookal n ou kraai sal kraak
as skerpe glinster
die horison se sluier versplinter
soos ’n vinger in n goue ring wat harte versamel deur trou te sweer
aan ieder matroos
wat bid vir n stukkie land van sy eie
ek is die bas die mas die kop op die kalf
wat heunings spruit
oral uit sy gaatjies uit
n blinde siener wat landmas kurf geduldig omseil en beset met
wat elke kiepie kraai
van kaapstad tot kairo
se kop laat draai
skoon fokken morsaf
wanbeeld, drogbeeld, houtbeeld huurgod
(met stywe seile duisend myle
die horison in)