Sometimes … nuns of Iona

 

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Sometimes … nuns of Iona was performed at Primo Piano LivinGallery’s “Frammenti Senza Tempo” curated by Dores Sacquega  in Brindisi, Italy at the Palazzo Granafei-Nervegna, a 16th century Italian castle.

Sometimes .. nuns of Iona is a work that conflates the stories of medieval women who fled to nunneries with those of contemporary women. It was not unusual for women from the 9th – 12th centuries to reside in nunneries. Many took the veil to lead a religious life, but the nunneries also provided a safe place for women who chose non-traditional lives.

Reasons for entering the nunneries were diverse. Some did not want to marry given the social status of women. Others wanted the opportunity to openly read and study. Some went to escape lovers or have babies out of wedlock. Many took the veil in order to maintain financial control of her family’s property or political power. In many ways, nunneries provided safe places for women who wanted to make non-traditional life choices.

Women are still looking for safe places where they can live on their own terms.

Sometimes … nuns of Iona is equal parts installation, performance, and participation. The work is framed in two ways. First, as an imaginary woman who is leaving her home and headed to the nunnery at the Island of Iona (Scotland) by boat in mid-winter. Second, as myself, a woman who recently turned 40, who has experienced so much of life because she has chosen not to get married or have children. Taking on the dual role of both medieval and contemporary woman, I contemplate the decisions and actions I have made that set me on this path.

The materials for the piece include a taffeta skirt, a wall-sized board, nails on a facing wall, pens/markers, and lipstick/lip liner. There are two actions in the work. First, I write the stories of men I have kissed or wanted to kiss on a large wall, knowing that I have only had those experiences because I haven’t been married. Second, I rip apart a skirt I am wearing, using the fabric as the material for small sculptures and additions to the text.  The pens/markers/lipstick/ lip liner are used in both a painterly and constructive manner.  Audience members assisted in ripping apart the skirt and adding visual components to the installation.

 

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