Taylor Quilty is a performance artist working at the intersection of decolonial ontologies and disability as urbanity.
. . . I would really like to work with the gallery, she tells me, and Ive always been a very patient artist. The former means that she is naturally comfortable with all types of materials, such as condoms, water, etc., and the latter means that she can handle whatever she wants.Quiltys place in the system of the gallery system, her participation in a potentially exploitative relationship to the space, her decision to live in a tent, and her experience of and sometimes resistance to the visual representations of disabilities are all matters of discussion. But as with Andy Warhols circus, her own relationship to the gallery becomes a topic of debate as well, though one with her own idiosyncratic vantage point. The intimacy of her presence is problematic. When the audience is forced to choose between finding support in a social space or reaching out to her with physical contact, her ambivalence becomes evident. In this way, she is an ally of the disabled—but not of the art itself. There is an implicit threat to our relationship to art, and the very risk of a challenge to the system by an artist is inherently devalued. While her work is undeniably successful in creating a very particular space for the disabled, it undermines that relationship by presenting it as an unrealistic, even dangerous, possibility.
The shows title, which the artist quotes from the day she began working in the exhibition, was no doubt intended to signal a certain revulsion with regard to the uses of the word disabled, but the subtext was almost too apparent to be grasped. A number of artists have taken quiescent to making their life zones available for movement, but its becoming more common for artists to choose instead to refer to them as workshops and to exploit the discontinuities of physical contact between actors. In this regard, the exhibition was best viewed as an extension of Quiescentes ongoing Obsession Project, a group of collaborative projects and performance work that she has been undertaking since the age of thirteen. These ranged from regular physical activity to the installation of an archive of archival materials to films and objects about food and the body. In this sense, the show was a continuation of the Obsession Project but with an additional layer of conflict and ambiguity. The exhibition posed several serious questions about the relationship between the disabled body and art. Quiescentes continued to grapple with the ambivalence that resists and alters any attempt to replace the body entirely with art.
Taylor Quilty is a performance artist working at the intersection of decolonial ontologies and disability as urbanity. Her video The Other Question: La Blonde (the name of the version shown here) was inspired by a conversation she recently had with a friend who described the results of a recent meeting between the Los Angeles-based Quilty and the South African-born musician Simon Rowhouse. The two met, in 1970, to discuss the status of South Africans as people with disabilities, which Quilty would do for her performance, while Rowhouse would do for hers. The two are a part of a group of artists and performers currently working in New York City that, like Quilty, engages the intersections of race and gender, and of culture and sex, in ways that reflect on the intersections of power and identity. Quilty is a deeply committed feminist, with a sociology background that informs her approach. Rowhouse, too, is a deeply committed black artist. Their differences are subtle, and their admiration for one another is evident. (As the aforementioned interview demonstrates, Rowhouses music is a social commentary on aural representations of black sexuality.) Quilty makes art that is deeply embedded in reality; it also sitsuate its own potentiality as art. In A Good Kiss in the Rain, 2006, Rowhouse wears prosthetic devices to assist in making gestures; they are included in an installation. Among other things, they cover his face in what resembles a mask. In Kiss of Night, 2006, Quilty and Rowhouse make love in a bed; their affection is neither as apparent nor as aggressive as it might be. She is an actual maid; he is a male bartender. The display of love is not limited to physical intimacy, however, as it is demonstrated by a larger-than-life model of a male torso that rolls around on top of his bed, a bed covered with white cotton. In this display, the older man seems more possessed than restrained, and there is the impression that this pose, as it were, is a painful one.
Taylor Quilty is a performance artist working at the intersection of decolonial ontologies and disability as urbanity. In this show she combined, alternately, traditional dance and bodily decomposition with both traditional and contemporary choreography. She always travels and performs with family members or strangers; she has had to work with others who are disabled. This work requires skills such as listening, understanding, and being able to relate and communicate. A selection of recordings and related materials were displayed on the wall and exposed to the world. They included newspaper clippings and images of American life with images of dancing, performing, and dancing on the wall. The photographs included snapshots of Quilty performing on various stage locations, performing with others on stage, or in front of her own photographs. The photographs and newspaper clippings have been used by people with intellectual disabilities to chronicle their lives with relative ease. A social encounter like Quivers at Carnegie Hall becomes, in its own way, a social encounter, as well.One series of photographs, which depicts her trying to keep up with a dancer, also reveals the difficulties of the disabled: The body that gets hurt is what keeps her from moving. Another series of newspaper clippings depicts the ease with which she moves and acts, as if she had the same movements and are fully in control of her body. She often wears the same clothes as when she was a child. An image shows her in front of the Carnegie Hall building, not far from a dance studio, practicing her dance. An image shows her standing before her own photographs, the same pose in both her front and back. A photograph shows her walking alone.An audio tape features various words and phrases spoken to a tape recorder. The lines are spoken slowly, with an intentionality that is both vague and specific. In one segment, a viewer talks with a man about his familys life together and about his relationships with his daughter.
Taylor Quilty is a performance artist working at the intersection of decolonial ontologies and disability as urbanity. The exhibition featured three video pieces. The smallest, Wet/Water (all works 2008), consisted of a notebook inscribed with notes about the relation between being a young black woman and being black. One note, written in black ink, read: I AM BLACK AND I AM NOT A THIEF. This sketchiness was countered by an eleven-minute video made by an African American and the artist, performed by a black male voice that mingled with Vivians red and yellow pop music. Equally resonant, Water Meets Soul, a black-pop concert of drumming, spoken-word singing, and a seemingly innocent off-kilter song by a small group of American musicians (who were themselves performers in the film), juxtaposed images of a top-hatted, sweaty black man, his hand askew, with images of an upside-down headless woman who wears a Halloween mask and, of course, a mask. The symbol of this masked ghoul was juxtaposed with images of a man with a mask in the movie Altered States, and the title of this work, Watermelon Style, refers to a local fruit that pairs perfectly with the hat shes holding in the movie.Installed in the main gallery was The Fuzzy Fuzzy, a seven-minute video composed of footage taken from a myriad of different documentary films. The video opens with the artist, dressed like a rock star in drag, laughing hysterically as her favorite singer cuts to a shot of a montage of images of the same chorus of voices and different walking men, dressed like black women in their white underwear and boxers, singing words such as I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, and I AM BLACK and YOU ARE WHITE. Throughout the video a slew of miscellaneous details are edited together to make the banal go on forever in a repetition of the word, this time, there. It was inevitable that this juxtaposition would bring up a lot of clichés.