between tin men
My long-term multidisciplinary project, Between Tin Men centers on Nimmie Amee, a minor character from The Tin Woodman of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum (1918). Nimmie Amee is an avatar for a burgeoning feminist subjectivity, who is encountering radical politics for the first time. I fashion the titular narrative — her obsession with a tin man who is in love with another tin man — as a cipher to explore sexualities and subjectivities that rub against my own personal narrative: “fag haggery,” fetish, working class shame, and the inherited trauma of sexual abuse.
My work also addresses the problems Baum’s biography creates for those broaching his primary source material. A beloved children’s author, L. Frank Baum was also an avid participant in Gilded Age Capitalism, as a salesman and theorist of visual merchandising — his treatise on store window decoration, “The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors,” (1900) is central to my research. Baum’s journalism repeatedly endorsed westward expansion via the genocide of Indigenous peoples, seemingly supported (white) women’s suffrage while harshly parodying the Suffragette movement in The Marvelous Land of Oz (1908).
Highlights from Part I, performed at Roulette on November 7, 2017
Excerpt from Part II, performed at Bard College on June 15, 2016
While others have engaged with the liberatory potential in his oeuvre, I create installations and web projects which refer to Oz’s relationship to consumer capitalism, and create videos and performances which explore white hegemonic feminism and its capitulation to neoliberalism’s de-radicalizing potential. For me, Baum’s most revolutionary potential is actually not within the texts themselves, but rather his nonproprietary relationship to authorship, which lends itself to fanfiction, and that is the adaptive mode I choose to employ with my project by using a combination of “slash” and “self insert” genres. In a similar spirit, I create objects that gesture toward gift economies as a way to seize upon the collective potential of fan communities that arise from such substantial fictional worlds.
Excerpt from one-channel video version of BTM, Part I. (Work-in progress)
Gifts and Souvenirs
Gifts and Souvenirs was installed at Lubov in Tribeca from July 2 to August 13, 2017.
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