A collaboration between hannah_g & Zoe Katsilerou.
Coming soon …
Zoe Katsilerou (singer/composer) and hannah_g create a three part narrative and suite of songs that draw on themes of home, immigration, the reframing of familiar surroundings, and opportunities for connection.
805-4821 is a trans
coming out story. it’s also about the 80,000 words of
facebook messages my
best friend and i wrote each other one fall. it’s also about hamlet and trauma and
having a feeling. it’s also about my mom. it’s mostly performed using an overhead
it’s mostly performed in silence. welcome
to the movies.
performed by Davis Plett. Edited by Gislina Patterson.
took place in The Ugly, aceartinc., Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory.
A response by hannah_g
If I were a journalist, I might begin this piece so:
“Davis Plett (23) a petit blonde in
pink two-piece with wide, gold, metal choker, black stilettos, and glasses,
began their performance in the midst of a rapt audience. Seated in a large 1980’s office chair
(emphasising their build), Plett operated an overhead projector/laptop hybrid
in silence as acetate after acetate, and digital screen after screen of text
and image rolled over the fabric of the old projection screen … ”
The visual description of the subject, once common in
tabloids, directs the reader towards assumptions about intelligence, intention,
personality, social standing, and availability. A female identified body in a
public role was regarded as an available body. This still holds true. With
simultaneously greater subtlety and absolute brazenness, female, and
increasingly, male identified bodies, are still being overtly included in North
American and European neo-liberal economies of sex, fantasy, commodity,
personal branding, and power. Plett takes the brutish, vested language of the
lowest-common-denominator-highest-yield-gaze and issues a layered and
unflinching I would prefer not to. In a counter play to those directives
issued by twenty-first century capitalism, Plett enacts increasingly productive
complexity in a lexicon of courtesies and frankness that lays bare their
rejection of manipulative classifications and decrees to consume and be
The details of Plett’s appearance and
performance I listed are significant, but must go beyond a simple exercise.
These details comprise meticulous elements of a meticulous work; meticulous in
the way a person who has planned a murder is. In a sense, murder – an act of power and
will to destroy another thing –
death are deeply present. Plett uses Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a force within the
warrenous structure of their work, as well as a personal signifier. The play
within a play strafes 805-4821 (not all men are men), but whereas this
device was deployed by Hamlet to reveal his father’s murderer, Plett
uses it to flush out that which seeks to murder their self with essentialist
labels, expectations, abuse, or trauma.
Through confessional texts — conversations, messages, self examination — Plett reveals and
exposes their familial, romantic, platonic, and undefined relationships as a
means of destroying, redeeming, and transcending. Tied in with sex, longing,
and discovery, the texts are not all necessarily destructive. Listening to and
reading them, it felt at times as if one were witnessing a staccatic series of petit
morts, at others, the ecstasies of a mystic. Annihilating the self in order
to experience divine revelations is a trope in spiritual journeys, after all.
The mystic experiences a double release by disseminating revelations beyond the
cloister, situating this as testimony.
On the tired, old, enormous projection screen we read line
after line of text for 40 minutes. It is impossible to catch it all. The
strange concoction of digital and analogue technology had a self-conscious
nostalgia that was very contemporary, but not always legible. The overhead
bulb was dim, Plett’s
fingers, manipulating the acetate text, were fleet, making words, including final
and first sentences, easily missable. The text — and therefore the
act of reading it
was both dense and porous. Since one cannot be sure one has read the entire
thing, the porousness and thus the absorbency of the text to hold perception,
gap-filling, assumptions, and uncertainties is increased. We see the web but
not all of its moorings. The sheer volume, the thickness of the experiences
described, our experiences of them, intensified the density of an already dense
piece of writing. A metaphor for the difficulty of comprehending another’s experience,
perhaps. The lengths required to make that experience comprehensible. To make a
person legible, regarded, understood, and not diminished by any of this.
Instead becoming imprinted on every surface to counter violent hegemonies that
is a tangled revelation; they welcome the weeds and the roots and the intensity
of being under the water of searching. Although they share all this with the
audience and invite us in, the essential interiority of memory, emotion,
relationships, and self-realisation remains intact, facilitated by the audience’s
reading of Plett’s
words pulled across the over head projector. The act of reading transfers the
interiority to us, and we have both Plett’s and our own voice
in our heads. It also positions Plett as a kind of handmaid. A secretarial
Through careful use of clothing and props, Plett conjured a
1980s secretarial aesthetic: the Janine, the Tess McGill, the Nine-To-Fivers –
women whose formidable attitudes are due to incredible latent powers expressed
within and outside the office, amplified by flamboyant accessories, ozone
destroying hair, and rapturous soundtracks. However, these
characters seek freedom and success within the savage capitalist structures
that oppress them. Plett critically draws on this aesthetic, associated with
neoliberal storytelling, masterfully subverting it. Not least with the
unexpected song they sing at the end of 805-4821 (not all men are men). Their
vulnerable, unamplified, unaccompanied voice (which is somehow primed for the
audience by their microwaving and eating of popcorn amongst us in a preceding
scene) makes inescapable the body that is outside of, as well as inside of the
texts. We are rapturously confronted with the realization that there is a body
within those 80’s
clothes, under that make up. That body is queerly present before us. That body
can be invisible, disguised, revealed, heightened, subverted, inverted,
converted, coveted according to their desires. We want to believe that.
I was working the double bill and was right at the back of
The Ugly for both performances. I watched two audiences enter, mill, watch,
mill again, and leave. People were quiet and, I think it fair to say,
expectant. Of what? Of connection? Revelation? To receive a queer sacrament?
Plett did speak in tongues, with tongue, a serpent’s seeking, and a
interior rearing. Transcending and immersing and rejecting the clinging,
incendiary spectacle of a body that is silent and that speaks: a distinctly
queer phenomenon. And yes, a sacred thing. The messy, uncomfortable kind.
was the secretary in the first Ghostbusters movie. Tess McGill was a
secretary in the movie Working Girl, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily
Tomlinson were secretaries in the movie 9 to 5.
Kristin Nelson (Canada) commissioned me and other artists to create new work using the sounds of winches as recorded in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House by Sound Designer Emma Duggan during a Canada Council for the Arts International Residency at Artspace in Sydney, Australia. More info at her website here.
The album is currently available for $40 USD and was produced in an edition of 100. Cost includes shipping within Canada and the US.
The project was made possible by The Winnipeg Arts Council.
Sounds of Curtains (now destroyed) Sydney Opera House, 2020; vinyl, screen print, risograph, duralar, offset printing, book binding; 12.25 x 12.875.
Sounds of Curtains (now destroyed) Sydney Opera House vinyl* release date was March 6, 2020, at Garry Street Coffee in Winnipeg (CA) and contains works by crys cole (DE), Christine Fellows (CA), hannah_g (CA), Casey Mecija (CA), Gail Priest (AU), Judith Rice (CA), Kelly Ruth (CA), Andrea Roberts (CA), Süss (CA), and Roger White (CA). Includes a bonus written response in the form of a ficto-criticism by artist and cultural theorist Jeanne Randolph (CA), and a visual response to Jeanne Randolph’s text by artist Kelly Campbell (CA).
Tyranny Songs is a performance with soundscape and movement that explores the effects of overt and subtle tyrannies and their disguised deployments of power on individual voices and bodies.
Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s The Origins Of Totalitarianism, among other texts, I created a soundscape using bird calls and songs (to the untrained ear one cannot tell the difference- a metaphor for the current proliferation of misinformation), quotes, and personal reflection. The actions that accompany it perform resistance, affect, and internalised conflict.
This project was developed during an artist residency at HUB14 in Toronto in April 2018. My attendance was made possible by the Winnipeg Arts Council and Manitoba Arts Council.
The work was first performed at Art Holm (curated by Hilary Crist & Alexandra Elliot) in Winnipeg from 11-13 May 2018.
Photo: Pablo Riquelme
Extract from the text in the soundscape:
There are certain phrases that repeat in my head. Warnings, one might call them. Like the chattering of sparrows, sometimes I notice them more than at other times. Sometimes they sound like warnings, sometimes like songs.
And although I try to live in a way that lessens the bombardment of messages from corporations that endlessly arc the air around me like arrows from thousands of medieval longbows. And although I try to live in a way that allows me to be struck by the arrows from the defending longbows of resistance and criticality that are less but still many. There is still the ‘although’. There is still the although.
<<the difference between truth and falsehood may … become a mere matter of repetition>>
Critical Fictions, an experimental writing project about contemporary art, has received the generous support of The Canada Council For The Arts. I’ll be working on this project for much of 2019/2020.
Critical Fictions is a collection of encounters with works of art via critical writing and fiction. It is also an investigation into how critical and creative responses to art impact one another, and how they function as ways of understanding, knowing, perceiving, and valuing.
The book is comprised of two parts:
– Five monographs about five queer, Canadian, contemporary artists.
– Five fictions specific to the sites of the artists’ work and informed by my critical research. They will be accounts of imaginative encounters with the artworks via a queer lens, contemplating how awareness of influences, perception, learning, and personal history shape being and bodies of knowledge.
Peripheral Review have published the essay about Derek Dunlop’s work in their Spring 2020 issue. Read it here.
Blackflash magazine have published the essay about Hagere Selam shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot in their spring 2020 issue. Read it here.
Peripheral Review will be publishing the essay and other texts related to Derek Dunlop’s work in 2020.
I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
Je reconnais avec reconnaissance le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.
Published by Canadian indie press Intercopy, Thought Factory combines the whimsical micro-narratives of artist hannah_g with delicate, heartbreaking drawings by Leslie Supnet. The result is a surrealist look at creativity, postindustrial art, and the ineffability of ideas. (from Drawn & Quarterly)