A Rebus of Identical Selves

A Rebus of Identical Selves, Week 2. Photo credit: Gabriella Sturchio

A Rebus of Identical Selves, Week 1. Photo credit: Nick Schroeder

Posted on: September 16, 2017
Views: 2002


"A series of six weekly performance-based installations. Auto-generated false reflections. A slow evisceration. Let's do dinner. Blindness. Real horse, real rider, real land and sky, and yet a dream withal."

A Rebus of Identical Selves was a series of six weekly performance-based installations created and performed in the style of a play. The performance was created in collaboration with Douglas W. Milliken from January 20 though February 28, 2014 at the former Artists at Work Window at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. Every Monday at exactly 8pm, the performance would begin with a face-marking ritual and lasted for 15 to 30 minutes. The space would change each week according to a long-form narrative; at the end of each performance, the space would remain the same until the performance the following Monday. During the week, the installation would be on view paired with a soundtrack of mutated, tonal arguments played through transducers, thus creating a speaker out of the space itself.

The narrative, installation, and performances were influenced by literature, translation, printmaking processes, costume and mask traditions, and shamanism.

A Rebus of Identical Selves
:: characters ::
Self 1, a female-ish presenting body dressed in white and black and gold
Self 2, a male-ish presenting body dressed in black and white and gold
The Minion, an attendant that sometimes appears before or after the performances, cloaked in black felt

:: narrative ::
week 1: the selves enter the space and write/transmit a text (in vaseline) for the audience. the text remains for the week.
week 2: the selves erase the text (using a screen-printing squeegee) and write two new texts. during the writing, the selves steal letters from one another; the effect is that the original texts are rendered illegible while a third, new text is formed coherently in the center. the text remains for the week.
week 3: the selves delete the previous text and prepare a meal. they consume a tongue, at times delicately and at others ravenously. the plate remains for the week.
week 4: the selves enter into what may either be a battle or a mating ritual, in which they are eviscerated. the guts (a soft sculpture) remain strewn for the week.
week 5: the selves make meaning from life and/or death. self 1 nails the guts to the wall in an attempt to deliver a message. self 2 metamorphosizes behind a mask while creating a kind of music. the message remains for the week.
week 6: the selves enter the space to clean it. they bring the space back to the original set, in order to├ó┬?┬?

:: running materials list::
vaseline, foam rubber, squeegee, paint, polyester suit, felt, cotton, canvas and linen dress, gold tape, cow tongue, dinnerware, sewn bits of fabric, hammer, nails, cleaning supplies, gel, glitter, clementine seeds, cheesecloth, glue, transducers, and a performance-specific audio track designed by Douglas W. Milliken.

Jenna and Douglas gave a collaborative artist talk at Maine College of Art on Thursday, February 6, 2014 as an extension of the performance and functioning as a performative "works cited" list. The list, which was also a printed piece, is as follows:

Beuys, Joseph. I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974. Performance, Rene Block Gallery, New York, USA.
Beuys, Joseph. How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare. 1965. Performance, Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf, Germany.
Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso, 2012.
Carnevale, Graciela. Accion del Encierro (Confinement Action), 1968. Performance, Ciclo del Arte Experimental, Rosario, Argentina.
Everett, Percival. I am Not Sidney Poitier. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2009.
Friend/Enemy. "Do the Stand On One Foot Dance to the Radio Rodeo." On 10 Songs. Perishable, 2002.
Frost, Mark and David Lynch. Twin Peaks. Television. 1990?1991. CBS & Republic.
Garcia Lorca, Federico. In Search of Duende. Edited by Christopher Maurer, translated by Norman Di Giovanni. New York: New Directions Publishing, 2010.
Joan of Arc. "Me (Plural)." On Live in Chicago, 1999. Jade Tree Records, 1999.
Joan of Arc. "Questioning Benjamin Franklin's Ghost," "Onomatopoepic Animal Faces," "Gripped By the Lips," "Fleshy Jeffrey." On Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain. Polyvinyl Records, 2004.
Joan of Arc. "Love Life," "After Life." On Life Like. Polyvinyl Records, 2010.
Johnson, Denis. The Stars at Noon. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1986.
Johnson, Denis. Resuscitation of a Hanged Man. New York: Perennial Books, 1991.
Johnson, Denis. Already Dead. New York: HarperCollins. 1997.
Kinsella, Tim. The Karaoke Singer's Guide to Self-Defense. Chicago: Featherproof Books, 2011.
Lynch, David. Eraserhead. Film. Directed by David Lynch. 1977. Los Angeles: Columbia, 1982, VHS.
Lynch, David. Mulholland Drive. Film. Directed by David Lynch. 2001. Los Angeles: Universal, 2002, DVD.
Make Believe. "Temping as a Shaman," "Abracadabra├ó┬?┬?Thumbs!" On Make Believe. Flameshovel Records, 2004.
Make Believe. "Say What You Mean," "'Boom!' Sounds Like "~Hiss~" From Inside It." On Shock of Being. Flameshovel Records, 2006.
Marcus, Ben. Notable American Women. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2002.
McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Crossing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
Merwin, W. S. "Teachers" (p.145), "The Drive Home" (p.218), "Berryman" (p.285). In Migration. Seattle: Copper Canyon Press. 2005.
Owls. "What Whorse You Wrote Id On," "Anyone Can Have a Good Time," "Holy Fucking Ghost." On Owls. Jade Tree Records, 2001.
Saramago, Jose. Blindness. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997.
Szymborska, Wislawa. View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995.
See also: work from Anna Akhmatova, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Mahatat for Contemporary Art, Anna Swir, & Lawrence Weschler.

Other Projects by Jenna Crowder

Jenna Crowder

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BFA Alumni

Major: Sculpture

Graduation Year: 2007

Artist Statement:

My practice is characterized by an investigation of language as a poetic space between desire and actualization. Trained as a sculptor and influenced by design principles, linguistics, and pop culture, I use typography, performance, and space to explore both the tactility of the written word as well as its cultural ramifications.