A research site for the discussion of labor exploitation, the Heat installation was created for a video and three performances. The video and its constructions explore how the resilience of the oppressed may be fuel for oppressive forces.
Heat (performance with sculpture), Vitrine at U-Bahnhof Kleistpark, Berlin, Germany, curated by A Trans, found bags, ivy, beeswax, thread, sound, metal chain, 24 in W x 54 in H x 15 in D (dimensions with chain are variable depending on ceiling height), 2019.
Friedman has omitted representation of individuals from her research on programs for the re-entry of incarcerated women into society. This is an act against the perpetuation of labor exploitation such as that which exists in the prison industrial complex. By using only her own tools, breath, body and materials, the artist questions how research cannot happen without exchange as she offers self sufficiency as a possible solution to labor currency.
Heat, video and sound, 2019.
Gestures, material and digital tackiness (bags ranged from gym bags, to soft lunch coolers to “ho” bags) and variance in the foliage deterioration, created a tragicomic scene in both the video and the performance. Friedman used beeswax to coat ivy she then sewed onto a series of found bags. The static ivy twists throughout the fabric to provide channels for resilience and self reliance to become outlets from the system, represented by the most heat-absorbing color (black). The beeswax increases the ivy’s perenniality and nods to the minimal hierarchy characteristic of a dying socialist species.
Heat performance footage compilation: at the exhibition opening for Miranda J Friedman and Bruce Magrane at How the Light Gets In in Sillicon Valley, California in May 2019; and at a performance at the A Trans Vitrine at U-Bahnhof Kleistpark, Berlin, Germany in June 2019.
Ivy allows the smaller and more oppressed forces to work around the hierarchical system and resist the friction of those weighing down upon and rubbing up against them. The piece asks if the trait of resilience then enables and perpetuates the ability of oppressive authority to thrive as the oppressed continues to take the heat.
Heat (performance with sculpture), Studio Baustelle, Berlin, Germany, ivy, beeswax, thread, sound, metal chain, 24 in W x 54 in H x 15 in D (dimensions with chain are variable depending on ceiling height), 2019.
Live performances opened additional dialogue as the artist questioned what is gained when one has the choice to shed oppressive layers, for example, by giving up support that is gained by attachment to oppressive forces. The artist unpacks a series of 18 found bags nested within one another, one by one. The unpacking begins with a peeling motion of the most exterior bag.
A harmonic sound score cued the artist’s dropping of each bag layer onto the ground, simultaneously revealing an increasing prevalence of ivy sewn about the bags. The sound source lived inside the innermost bag (also the smallest and most ivy-covered), causing the sound to become clearer and louder with each peel.
Each performance resulted in deterioration to the sculpture. Friedman invited guests to add stitches to the installation as she sewed some of the detatched ivy back onto the bags after her performance at Studio Baustelle in Berlin.
Originally intended to cue movement in live performances of Heat, the harmonic sound score that Friedman created has become a shaping tool for the choreography’s cadence in both the performance and the video. Recordings of plant sounds and her YouTube-only training on a hand-me-down harmonica provide secondary hues in the ameteur palette exploring the removal of the heat and debt one accepts by accepting favors. The tempo builds to evoke a narrative of using self reliance to navigate around capitalism’s support systems for those at the top and the heat that builds on the layers below.