F U T U R E R I T U A L @ live art bistro
queer rituals for rage, resistance and renewal.
F U T U R E R I T U A L toured the UK to leeds, bristol, london and folkestone during autumn 2018. the tour was supported by arts council england
participating artists: china, lise boucon, lizzie masterton, nene camara, joseph morgan schofield
photos: chloe chapman
as part of the F U T U R E R I T U A L tour, we commissioned four artists to write responses to the work. the following response is by the artist es morgan.
a ritual of a kind
a perfect line of yours
an enduring memory of mine
I am never alone, I have more than 100 snails
It begins with a momentary smile and a flicker of eye contact, then you begin a slow unravelling which will take four hours. You reach the floor and surge forwards chest-first, the energy of an army compressed into an age. I love what the attempt to do things in slow motion does to bodies, objects, ideas, which cannot completely hold this strange, inorganic pace. They repel it with every cell and fibre, slave to gravity, resistance, exhaustion.
Sudden, minute releases of tension become explosive punctuation to an endless unfolding. A crystal glass slides along the white cloth until the friction becomes too great - cup tips and water floods between the cabbages. China crockery is pushed together, braces, until edges slip with an uncomfortable, squeaky clatter. Fingers part slowly but ultimately the white tulle falls in one quick, ungraceful motion. A snail clings on to your lower belly but its suction isn’t strong enough this time and it uncouples, tumbles away. Your body rotates again and the crease of flesh between your waist and ribs releases a tiny cloud of flour. The snails all eat you and I feast on this slippery trail of moments through time.
I feel like shit today - so many things on my mind and each time I return to you I feel the immense care you have for each of these tiny invertebrates. I watch and I am invited in, cared for too.
shy bairns get nout
Your disembodied voice tells me about a child who is learning about her anger, about arousal, desire, and negotiating a moralising world. You tell me that rage is a gift from your body, to keep you safe. Whilst your voice presses on you light 7 red candles - a quiet rite. I wait for you to brandish your rage, to burst open, to share the energy you’re harnessing. Not today.
As you blow out the last candle I remind myself that some rituals are not mine to enter.
a leap of faith
yesterday I dreamt of flying
I remember us sitting on top of the cliffs in Folkestone and talking about ecological collapse and excessive genders and the Greek myth of Icarus. I remember the warning - “don’t fly too close to the sun” as I watch you arranging the objects of this ritual on a small table - a bag of wax, a small pan, needles connected by fishing line, a blowtorch. There is no ceremony or grandeur - just a number of actions which need to be completed and a respectful quiet.
Earlier today we joked about your need for aural stimulation (always disco), but this gesture is in silence. The cars on Regent Street are the intermittent roll of waves as you stand atop that cliff, holding a pan full of small pieces of wax. The breath of the blowtorch is quieter and more steady than I imagined it would be, and you roll the flame over the base of the pan. It becomes even quieter as the main light source on you goes out and we lose a low buzz from the score. Footsteps as Adam comes back, probably to change a fuse. We teeter on the edge with you in the near-dark. Finally the audible bubble of molten wax is a sign and the straight guys on the central table let out a gasp of vague discomfort - oh god no way oh jeez fuck.
I take a leap with you and we fall. The sound of hot liquid as it runs over your arm and patters on the plastic tarpaulin is the crumble of soft chalk tumbling down the cliffside. I take a leap with you, trusting that the white folds I see are wax, not the puckers of blistering skin, that the red I see is blood from earlier and not something else.
When you raise your arms to reveal your stalactite wings, the needles fall from the skin of your temples, one by one. As six trails of blood run down your bare chest I remember the warning - “don’t fly too close to the sun”. I fall with you. There is no perfect harmony between the sun and the sea. Either the damp will clog your wings or the heat will melt the wax and you will drop into the ocean. The purpose is never to fly.
a dance, a held hand, a tribute
I’m a boss ass bitch
I’m shaken from my conversation by “I’m a Boss Ass Bitch” by PTAF. It’s a stark and welcome shift - you dance and lipsync, at once gathering strength and shaking it off. I glance down at your programme note: “I feel pain, you must feel it too”. I don’t know everything you’re shedding but I do see that things are falling away, peeling off your body as you hit every ~ single ~ beat, and it is JOYOUS to watch.
The next moment we’ve already moved on, and you are asking a guy, “how would you feel about wearing this wig” with a nervy giggle. I’m disarmed by how quickly you can move from ‘boss ass bitch’ to this kind of modestly-charismatic-sweetness. Of course, you win over the awkward audience participant and the rest of us too.
Again, quicker than I am ready for, we move on. You stand and give a tribute to those “who are told they don’t matter, who weren’t listened to”. You ask a gorgeous goth to lie down - with their severe black fringe, latex skirt, hoop earrings, Demonia boots and a wicked attitude - in an arch of multicoloured artificial flowers and you give a eulogy. It is perfect, truly a serendipitous moment of sincerity, high-camp and care.
if we all spat at once they’d drown
You stumble onto the stage and recline uneasily beside a disheveled tree. Earlier you told us you’d dragged it across Leeds city centre - it is a fierce image and I kind of wish I could have made that pilgrimage with you. In your cracking, thick Yorkshire accent you tell us “I’m fuckin struggling ere”. You lament on broken systems, corruption and the murder enacted by austerity and its really hard to hear. “I’m gonna scream now and you’re gonna appreciate it.” We do. Thank you.
In a hoarse rage-song you repeat, “if we all spat at once they’d drown.” “if we all spat at once they’d drown.” “if we all spat at once they’d drown.” I can’t stop thinking about this line. Your rage is contagious - you plead for my anger and I’m furious too but I stay quiet. I’m sorry if you feel alone, I am desperate to spit with you as you leave.