Trigger: Patrick Staff
Hello, my name is Patrick Staff. I’m an artist based in LA and London.
So weed killer is a video installation. The work is really about the intersection of gender and illness and a sense of contamination. And the kind of backbone of the piece is a monologue that’s been adapted from a book by artist/writer Catherine Lorde. It’s actually her memoir, it’s called the Summer of Her Baldness and it’s a very like moving but quite acerbic account of her having cancer and chemotherapy. What I did or what my interjection onto that text was was kind of shifting it into or through a transgender lens, or through a trans perspective. So each of the performers in the film identifies as trans. And again the backbone is really this main actor called Deborah who is performing the monologue. So she talks about this taking of chemo therapy being akin to mainlining weed killer and it really gets into this idea of affliction and contamination and what maybe we think of as being medicine and what we think of as being poison as being a very fine line. And so again for me it was about shifting that into a trans perspective. When Deborah is talking about the scars on her breast or what the meaning of hair is, or why do dicks belong to men and long hair belongs to women, begins to take on this different connotation. There’s a real sense of a kind of embodied experience in Deborah’s performing of the text. And you know by sort of like probing both cancer and trans experience, rather than conflating the two there’s a sense of kind of initiating a dialogue about technologies of the body, biomedical technologies, what one’s relationship to a pharmaceutical or pathologized identity might be, and really this kind of a striving for living on one’s own terms. The kind of often painful process of understanding one’s own body and how it exists in the world.The other main section which is towards the end of the film is this artist and performer Jamie Crew, who is a very close and old friend of mine, performing this lip-synced love song in a bar. And you know in it she’s kind of singing and performing and she’s really intensely preforming these lyrics of like to be in love with you is everything, its burning me up inside, it’s almost destroying me. And there’s this shift into desire being an intoxication, a sort of sickness, an overwhelming of the body with love and suffering and desire. Throughout the whole video there’s a question about how we articulate suffering and how we understand pain, and how we sort of like process and relate to one another when we’re in these moments of physical devastation.