“Abjection traces the silhouette of society on the unsteady edges of the self; it simultaneously imperils social order with the force of delirium and disintegration.”McClintock, Anne., Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest
Image: Manuel Vason
In advance of the most recent performance of Communion at Steakhouse Live Festival: Longer Wetter Faster I spoke with Eno Mfon of Gal Dem magazine: http://www.gal-dem.com/artist-spotlight-jade-montserrat/
Steakhouse Live Festival (Katy Baird, Mary Osborn and Aaron Wright) generously prompted a reciprocity between performer and audience through a multi-authored, duration all writing project, exploring critical responses to live art. http://criticalinterruptions.com
Communion is performed as an excerpt, an iteration of The Rainbow Tribe project. The performance shoulders and ritualises colonialist value systems. The performance is under development, the ambitions of which focus on language, beauty, transcendence, audience as complicit. The idea is to create a fire inside and use Victorian irons, recalling the period that dicatates our current economic and education system, gender binaries, work ethos, industry and the erasure of histories as an exclamation and conclusion of empire – all urgently requiring renewal.
Image: Manuel Vason
Communion requires a central platform, currently covered with the plain cloth/towelling I was swaddled in as a baby. A person (huge thanks to Christian Hutchinson, Sammaneh Poursh, Benjamin Sebastian and Tomathy Daly Chandler), dressed in a white, hooded disposable decorators boilers suit, irons my hair, which goes from a full afro to flat (ish): the wiry texture, drier, atonal, crisp, evidence that it has withstood pressure. I ritualistically brush my hair out at the beginning of the performance. I have performed it both clothed and unclothed; the latter having significant impact in it’s depiction of vulnerability.
The performance resonates with the sacrificial: it comments as a rite of passage in the respect of straightening hair. It is performed as a vignette. The only slight movements visible are the ironing and the rise and fall of my breath.
Communion, at it’s core speaks of imposed vanity; the ritual of ‘preening’ and ‘fixing’ hair. Looking from a much broader framework, however, the performance questions silent gestures: of organized religion; the ironing out or smoothing over of cultural difference and activities performed privately for the benefit of visibly conforming to misplaced Western constructs.