Red Breath

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  • Red Breath 1993

    Performed at Middlesex University, London UK

    In this early performance work, I explored territorial violence in relation to my personal experience of domestic violence, the Gulf War, and colonization.

    For four hours I lay perfectly still on the floor within a small tipi, my body shrouded in black fabric covering. The fabric is painted with a half red/half white line that runs down the centre of my body. This line, symbolic of internal and external inter-racial/cultural/territorial relationships, begins and ends smoothly, but is jagged in the middle.

    A small clay ‘tree of life’ sits on my navel, encircled by a little ‘sacred hoop’. This hoop is formed by a large earring that was torn from my ear during a domestic assault by my roommates in London that was fueled by territorial issues. Throughout the performance, my only motion is my breathing, which raises and lowers the little tree on my belly, calling subtle attention to its presence.

    The tipi is illuminated by a small tv. On it plays a looped montage of Gulf War-related images/news footage, violent scenes of assault on a Native camp from the movie ‘Little Big Man’ and stereotypical Hollywood depictions of Native ‘braves’. During intermittent periods the screen is blank, emanating only blue/light.

    On the tipi’s surface, oil is used to both replicate and alter graffiti common in London during the Gulf War. One side of the tipi reads ‘No Blood for Oil’, and the other has my metamorphasized counter-slogan of ‘Oil is Her Blood’. During the pauses in the video loop, the tipi is illuminated by the tv’s blue ‘fire’, setting its covering aglow and accentuating the dripping words.

    In the corner of the room is a small table and chair, lit by a small light. A written description of the three different examples of territorial violence sits on the table, where people can sit & read it.