'Club intervention' at The Dive bar part of Exhibition VII Houston TX. Special thanks to Farrah Fang, David Gonzalez, Matador Xoloitzcuinlte, Faith Pruneda, Teresa Martinez & Alexandra Lartigue. Video clips by Kwame Adu-Danso, Junior Fernandez & Julian Jaramillo.
Operation Psychopomp (corpse maggots on the dance floor)
Living material, Xoloitzcuintle, necro-bacteria, maggots & pupae.
A Mexican hairless dog (Xoloitzcuintle) guides a trans forensic team into a Houston night club. They transport burial site materials in plastic buckets into the venue, and toss corpse maggots (Sarcophaga Bullata) onto the dance floor. The team recreates a forensic scene, recovering the discarded burial material from the dance floor. Once this is complete, they leave the club instantly, leaving odor remnants within the space.
Psychopomp refers to a non-human species that guides spirits into the other world. The performance features many animal parts, including burial dust and vulture feathers. A necro-garment constructed of 104 petri dishes is worn by trans performer Farrah Fang, each containing sheep blood agar, cultivated fungi, and degraded maggots, pupae and blowfly exoskeletons from fieldwork studies in human remains recovery in Texas.
These days anything can happen in a club. Anyone can come in and kill you - the levels of uncertainty for QTPOC are extreme. The club atmosphere creates a ritual of survival from death and danger. The necro-garment is composed of death and worn against a living person, reclaiming life itself. A lot of trans and queer navigation in the world is about the body - I will wear death before i get killed.
a dog awaits by the river
The plated garment is impregnated with a degraded residue mixture of cultivated fungi & maggot exoskeletons from human cadavers and burial site material. Petri dishes containing sheep blood agar, a medium used by scientists to cultivate microorganisms, reanimate the necro-bacteria brought by these materials.
During forensic training in human remains recovery, maggots were picked from fresh outdoor donated corpses, these maggots are analyzed in the lab to determine the PMI, Post-mortem-interval, or time since death of a human cadaver. I placed maggots collected from the cadavers into Petri dishes, allowed to be absorbed into the microorganism culture.
Garden gloves used during my training in human remains recovery, exhuming burials, digging out human bones, touching the soil and roots within the cadavers, and picking maggots from fresh corpses, are made contact onto the surface of fresh Petri dish agar. This interaction caused the microorganisms like bacteria/fungi that were picked up and brought by the hand gloves to grow and cultivate on the surface of the Petri dish nutrient. After the microorganisms have cultivated in the petri dishes I placed them under the sun, drying out the petri dish agar and stopping the microorganism growth. What remains is a dried and degraded residue of the agar with the maggot exoskeletons that were absorbed into the new degraded agar tissue, creating a type of “fossil”. After this process I begin to construct the garment with twine.