Visualizing Trans; An Interdisciplinary Exhibition
Kupfer Building, Madison, WI
October 20-28, 2006
Performance October 22, 2006
For this performance, I washed thousands of yards of dirty yellow ribbon I had wound on an enormous spool, then hung it to dry. While I washed the ribbon, I sang songs from the Spanish-American, Revolutionary and Civil War era. The songs reflected the futility of war from the perspectives of a soldier, a widow, and a mother of a soldier wounded in battle. The performance lasted three hours.
Commonwealth Gallery, Madison, WI
In this rendition, I made “patriot ribbons” while singing songs dating from the 18th to early 20th century whose content deal with the futility of war. I sat in a rocking chair, surrounded by a living room type setting where patriot ribbon items were displayed that had been marked down in price. The performance lasted three+ hours.
As the Iraq war decreased in popularity, so did the availability of patriot ribbon campaign items. As the items went on sale, the profit made from these products decreased as the number of dead rose.
ArtCore Brewery Annex
January, 2008, Los Angeles, CA
In L.A., I modified the original performance, using a bucket for washing the ribbon, and a clothesline to hang it from. I sang the same songs until I had spanned the room with the ribbon. The sculptures are the work of Roger Rigorth, with whom I shared the exhibit.
At the beginning of the Iraq War, the popular yellow ribbon campaign represented and affirmed patriotism and support both for the troops and the war. I noticed over time, the yellow ribbons (which came in the forms of magnets, bumper stickers, pins, lawn ornaments, etc.) became more and more scarce, although the war still continued. The yellow ribbons, once displayed with pride, had faded on our car’s bumpers, eroded on our lawns, and became virtually extinct in our stores.
I felt these ribbons have came to symbolize our guilt over our tarnished history of the treatment of troops in an unpopular war, a paranoid need to appear patriotic for the sake of public acceptance, and the influence of feel-good shopping in America.