August 2018

Memory of Ⓐnarchitecture

Reading for Converge45 at Ann Hamilton’s installation habitus in Portland, OR. 

Curated by Stephanie Snyder.

I was invited to perform a reading at Ann Hamilton’s massive public textile installation, habitus, for Converge45.  In my studio at the time, I was drawing architectural blueprints from memory of dozen or so squats and structures I lived in as a child in the American South with my mother and sisters. These drawings were never exhibited publicly. Still a young artist, I didn’t want to get type-cast into making auto-bio trauma porn about my family or youth. I was interested in proustian notions of place/memory expressed through anarcho-punk sensibilities. 

This drawing project began a years long investigation in the histories of anarchitectures as formal expressions of systemic social collapse. I now do my drawing with 3D lidar scans taken in hyper-saturated moments, like during evictions.

Instead of showing the drawings, I wrote a one page mini-memoir, composed the morning of the reading on site at habitus using surrealist automatic writing techniques. The text is reproduced below.

Chicken Grease Baptismal Pool

When Mom fried chicken, I poured used grease in the baptismal pool. We lived in an abandoned church in those years. Pewless and gutted. I slept behind a curtain in the choir chambers. My mother kept her bed on a red-carpeted stage where the baptistry once was. The pool itself lie in ruins in the yard. Fire ants built their mounds within it.

Chicken et, Mom told me to dump the oil in the hole. She handed me a heavy stock pot full of grease. I walked my habitual path with two hands carrying and belly full. She fed us, and I was grateful. Then, she slept up on that stage like some kind of awful deity.

It wasn’t really a pool anymore, but a hole in the ground with concrete lips. I balanced on the edge, careful not to slop hot oil onto myself. I saw a hole and a baptismal pool. Mom saw a church and a house. The fire ants had taken up residence, too. Tipping forward on my toes, I made them my offering. I poured the chicken grease in the dirt beside their mound. Hot splatters bit them. They bit me back, and I returned with the empty pot slung over one hip like an oil-baby.

It was her that I made strange offerings to. She who knocked down walls. She who built mounds of second hand school clothes. We took up residence where we could. Mom told me that the choir chambers were my bedroom, so I slept there – to the right of her red baptistry. Her bed and body displaced the pool.