In 2011, 6 years on from ‘Film for my Nanna’, I restaged the ‘bride searching for a groom’ performance at the Venice Biennale, and on the walkways of Venice. This time, I actually wanted to get married to someone, specifically a european, so i could get a visa to live abroad. I really wanted to get married in Venice. Unfortunately when I looked into the possibility of marrying a stranger, I saw that you have to stay in Italy 30 days before you are permitted to marry. I couldn’t afford that. So I just walked around as a bride and spoke to lots of different people.
The Kiss 2011
I staged this photo-op at the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. I wanted to get strangers to kiss me in front of the sea, to try and create some sort of iconic image. I was inspired by Rodin’s sculpture entitled “The Kiss”, and also Robert Doisneau’s famous photo of the same name. Mum would take the photo, and I would send a copy to the people who kissed me as thanks, and I also thought it was a nice idea to give back, to send people something for their courage to be involved. I didn’t mind who kissed me and how, I thought it would just be fun to see what happened. Unfortunately, on the day, it was pouring with rain. It was cold and bleak. Also, mum turned up late to the photo shoot (!) so I had to use another photographer, Ian Macrae, who was kind enough to help. I felt terrible about all this as things had clearly gone to shit, but it was ok in a way, because the images were all that really mattered.
When that man kissed me, he had been drinking. He told me I was beautiful and immediately went in for “a pash”. I obliged, as I was happy that someone finally was kissing me properly, in that romantic way. I thought it would be great for the camera. When we started kissing, people started whooping and a hollerin’. It must have been a thrill to see some real action on the cold beach – finally, I was getting what I deserved. Things momentarily took on a gladiatorial feel, as if we were in the ring, performing primal actions for the vocal crowd. Our kissing had a strange mechanical aspect to it, like it does at a drunken year 9 party. Two mouths hone in, find their target, lock together, and tongue and jaw move accordingly. He must have kissed me for 10 seconds or so, but it felt like ages. He started to put his hands in my hair and all over my back as he kissed me. I remember thinking, when does a kiss stop being a kiss? And ok, this has gone far enough now. That’s why, in the last photo, you can see me trying to push him away. After our kiss, he was very pleasant and we said our goodbyes and I sent him some nice copies of the photos with a message saying “good times” or something like that.
Photographer: Ian Macrae
Notes on “Together” video, 2011
My mother and I danced at Southland for this video. We danced to Olivia Newton John’s song “Magic”. On the day of our filming, my mother and I went to Southland, and purchased matching dresses. We put them on in the toilets in Southland, and then did our dance, all while being filmed by my little sister, and her boyfriend. After our attempt at dancing, we then returned the dresses and got a refund. Then my sister’s boyfriend drove us all home. The video took about 40 minutes to film – and what you see in the video is exactly what happened.
The making of this work was highly fraught. Southland denied my filming request, so we had to film on the sly. I had also hired a choreographer to help us come up with an easy routine, but Mum absolutely hated doing the dancing lessons. The whole thing was a nightmare, but I was committed to it for the exhibition at GOMA, so I had to do it.