kendell geers: lady/god/gift in murcia

8 July 2010
For the fourth phase of Cannibal Domino, the South-African artist Kendell Geers is creating an in situ production-action at Sala Verónicas in Murcia . In one single gesture, it will address and invoke the elements, remnants and spirits of the three preceding projects by Jimmie Durham, Cristina Lucas and The Bruce High Quality Foundation, while at once activating the double colonial representation of the "other": the good native who contributes to the process of acculturation by absorbing the prevailing culture, and the cannibal as an embodiment of the savage pagan to blame for all social and historical ills. The artist attempts to graft a savage perspective into the issue of cannibalism, alluding to the devouring of the cultural enemy as an image of terror and, at the same time, as poetic stance.

Working in collaboration with the performance artist Ilse Ghekiere, Kendell Geers' contribution will follow an essentially performative methodology, understood not as a spectacle but as a visual, spatial, allegorical and sculptural form of production. In a scenario containing the remnants and memory of the previous phases of Cannibal Domino, as well as an evocation of motifs culled from the cave-painting and social imagery of the Region of Murcia, Geers and Ghekiere will produce works as the result of ritualistic cooking. In consonance with this mythological and poetic methodology, the by-product of Geers' actions, stagings and objectual manipulation is not predetermined. It is generally accepted that the best cooks never stick to a recipe, instead allowing the meal to slowly brew following the spirit of the dish.

In this latest twist to Cannibal Domino, Kendell Geers will step beyond the territories of reflections on the economy of the artistic, memory and the holy that preceded him, to explore in depth the archive of the histories of cannibalism and the policy of representation of the pagan savage. The actions and outcomes of this creative ritual will make use of the "Confusion of Tongues" of culture, where what is a gift in one language is poison in another, and where the terrorist is viewed as a cannibal for one or a freedom fighter for the other. This polyvalence underlies the very title of the project "Lady/God/Gift", remitting to the Old English etymology of Lady Godiva: Godgifu or Godgyfu, meaning "God Gift". And just as that legend about the transgressive exhibitionism of a naked woman in the public space may be useful in abolishing oppression and blinding the voyeur, the work Geers proposes here views cultural conflict as poetic material by questioning Cannibal Domino's invocation of cannibals in civilised Spain .