Coptic style book
North Branch Projects
Research and Process:
For this piece I started with the object, an onion, and then began to investigate why I was drawn to this object. I liked the idea of its structure, easily deconstructable concentric globes, fitting perfectly one inside another. I acted out ways that I could engage the onion. I cut up the onion, deconstructed the rings, and hung the rings on fence posts, bicycle handles, door knobs, etc. I experimented with ways that I could deconstruct the onion. I keep a sketchbook with me to record my thoughts and observations and to test ideas on paper. I revisited my past performance “Damaged Goods” and considered the possibility of this performance as being part of a series of performances. I looked at The Everyday: Documents of Contemporary Art, Edited by Stephen Johnstone, Art 21 Blog Alchemy of Inspiration: The Minds Lovers, Entropy and Art Rudolf Arnheim, Semiotics (Wikipedia entry). Over the past three weeks I aimed to synthesize my recent experiences and desire to explore relationships to objects into a performance piece finding connections.
A monologue is spoken throughout the process of deconstructing an onion to retrieve the absolute center to be placed in my sock as a good-luck charm. The cutting of the onion acts as a foundation for my dialogue because the action is predictable and follows a typical narrative arc. The actions support the dialogue. This autobiographical narrative weaves personal experiences, conflicting ideologies, nerosies, superstitions, and rituals. The onion sits on a pedestal while I sit behind it facing the audience. The onion is cut in half with an ax then carefully pulled apart layer by layer with a small knife. The burning sensation in my eyes from slicing interrupts the monologue while the room is overwhelmed with the smell of the onion.
I wanted to utilize and move beyond the clichéd metaphor of peeling the layers off an onion to get closer to “truth” or knowledge. Deconstructing something as ordered and rational as the structure of an onion acts as a departure from rationality. I juxtapose this rationality with the irrationality of nerosies (hypochondria) and superstitions (good luck charms). I take the irrationality a step further by verbally projecting fear onto the onion and into the future: “I look up the signs and symptoms of rare diseases and think of the ways they could apply to cutting up this onion (cutting the ends off the onion with an Exacto blade to infer a surgery to remove undesirable matter from the body) “In this search, I stumble upon “sociopathy” at a particularly vulnerable moment, and think of the ways I will be manipulated in the future. “ The onion’s ability to make eyes water as a physiological rather than an emotional reaction interests me. Fears are often fueled by experiences, but the attribution to the cause can be misplaced. In the case of a ritual, by placing belief in an object, we feel relief even when we are aware that the object does not have special powers. I set out to synthesize what I had been experiencing in my life in order to be constructive, an agency over fear. I wish to consider how we experience the world emotively.
I am influenced by Jenny Holzer’s Truisms, particularly: “Confusing yourself is a way to stay honest”.
4″ x 4″ x 2″
altered print, fabric box, jar, onion skin, burlap.
Deconstructing cliche metaphors of peeling the layers off an onion. This piece functions as an extension of the (do you really want) To Know Your Onion performance (in progress)
Individuals may open and close the box to view contents. I am interested in deconstructing the cliche metaphor of peeling the layers off an onion. Unpacking traumatic events that occurred in our pasts can be a painful experience. The onion’s ability to make our eyes water as a physiological rather than an emotional reaction interests me, because it appears as though we are crying. Fears are often fueled by traumatic experiences, but the attribution to the cause are often misplaced. After time has passed, painful experiences are not as painful. We may feel sentimental; not about the experience itself, but because we realize our personal development. The onions peel crushed up, is reminiscent of glitter. Presented in this way, the onion skins become an object of sentimentality.