Deeper in the Pyramid
As an acknowledgement of milk’s predilection to be polymorphic, issuing as liquid, solid, powdered, vaporous, semisolid, and crystalline, the project Deeper in the Pyramid takes various forms, as exhibition, book, talk, and performance lecture. The lecture is enhanced by performance elements to enable the various materialities of milk to be trialled, and brought into the open. What was captured as a photographic event in 20th century fast flash photography of milk drops is released into the open space of the auditorium. Time, light and the capacities of vision are part of the image. What is witnessed in the live space possesses none of the qualities of the coronet that stops time, borrows and holds light for ever. Emblematised here are different modes of addressing this material or stuff that is milk. Hands on, in time, in process, unpredictable, known through the nexus of bodies, touch, ambience set in parallel with the projection, the confection of light and liquid crystals, ever the same, glossily beautiful but also endlessly repeatable.
The performance lecture is punctuated by small acts of annihilation, and so evokes shock, the dramatisation of violence, which is the violence of abstraction, industrialisation, of ultimately not knowing, being alienated from what things are and where they come from. Something that is present at the start of life, milk, and so, at least in fantasy, a sign of nurture and care, is also enmeshed in deadliness, in precarity, in social stigmatisation. Milk is taken apart, recomposited and refitted in an age that demands flexible de- and recomposition, agile refitting of all, for all, in terms of bodies, work, capital. At stake is how milk, and all that might be derived from milk, is taken possession of, in various ways. There is a hint, in the very messy excess of it all, that milk, like Proteus, evades capture, spills, squirts and disobeys.
The performance lecture conveys a knowledge of milk as chemical substance, as symbolic fluid, mythic matter, imaginative entity, organised around multiple coded gestures that emanate from milk: feeding, spilling, cosmetic application, separating, cutting, spraying, in the heavens in a remade Milky Way, or at our own mirrored bodies, as milk stands in for that other bodily fluid that is as much read as sign of life as death: blood.
What is done to milk in its various guises is also an analogue for art making, where matter and concept are pushed and pulled into places, made solid, cast into light, posed as enigma or revelation.
Deeper in the Pyramid is delivered across Grand Union in Birmingham (2 February-12 April), Primary and Banner Repeater in London (26 May-29 July).