Pulling Strings (2004-2006)

In this series of works I am attempting to write two different letters by pulling and releasing strings attached to each of the four limbs. This work began with the idea of becoming a kind of mark making marionette and then went through a series of permutations that made the human puppet associations less important.

I put together the first version of this work when I was associate artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida. I was there studying with master artist Carolee Schneemann. She kindly described the work as a ‘cousin’ to her endurance performance drawing work Up to and Including Her Limits (1973-76). Here is the video from that first version of the work Pulling strings (2004)

The next version of the work was inspired by traveling on the ‘kombies’ while I was living near Tuxtla in Chiapas Mexico. While they were originally kombies, the term ‘kombi in Mexico is now synonymous with any kind of van that has been retrofitted to act as public transport. The retrofitting is designed to maximise the number of passengers the van can carry. One aspect of the retrofit is to add handle that allows the driver to open and close the rear door. On the end of the handle is a bicycle brake lever that is connected to a cable release that allows the driver to open the latch of the door. Here I use the same set-up to remotely trigger pump up spray bottles filled with ink. In the semi-rural setting where this video was shot, (listen out for the roosters), I’d often see campesinos carrying similar spray bottles filled with pesticides that they used to tend the corn crops. So this is Pulling strings: spray variation (2004)

The project then underwent a number of refinements to the spraying system and I included a spooling mechanism that allowed me to work on a larger scale without creating an unmanageable tangle of strings. This is Pulling strings (2005)