Spit The Tar: A response by Marissa Perel

Kjell Theøry
by ATOM-r at the Graham Foundation
January 27, 2017

Kjell Theøry was created by ATOM-r core members: Mark Jeffery (choreography) and Judd Morrissey (text and technology) with Justin Deschamps and Christopher Knowlton (collaborators/performers); and features a guest appearance by Leonardo Kaplan.

Collaborators include: Grace DuVal (costumes); Laura Prieto-Velasco, Stephen Reynolds, Oli Watt (props/objects); Joshua Patterson (sound); and Josh Hoglund (lighting).


image credits: Grace DuVal


Spit The Tar

written by a queer audience for a queer reader


Writing at the time of refusal, at a turn, an inversion


  • on the cusp of pardoning January 17, 2017 granted to Chelsea Manning, a.k.a. riding on the heels of mercy facing the gale winds of no mercy


Living between worlds, between times, between oppressions


  • having the delusion/belief that our destruction will lead to our transformation
  • but not because we’ve been given a choice


Enduring our lives as experiment, as algorithm


  • in what ways are we or aren’t we chained to our identities now, today?


We look to heroines, icons, symbols of power from the past to show us how to endure:


ATOM-r looks to Alan Turing and Guillaume Apollinaire to illuminate the chimera


ATOM-r looks back 100 years to fathom the vision of Surrealism in a time of War


ATOM-r looks back 60 years to fathom Alan Turing’s Theory of Morphogenesis, written


post being found guilty of gross indecency


post chemical castration


pre cyanide suicide


with a posthumous pardon granted to him in 2013 by Elizabeth II




                                                                                (as sung by Christopher Knowlton)


We know war births worlds, births bodies


We are its instruments, its bystanders, its faulty designs, its test subjects


We delegate our sensations, our desires, what we’re willing to give up


To discover we have given birth to ouroboros  – the obby øss – under our skirts


   (as performed with rope swung overhead by Justin Deschamps or a long hula hoop swung in the shape of infinity by Christopher Knowlton)                                                                                                                                                                              

Hormones replace self determination as the binary keeps us solitary, does not let us rest


Words swirl in white across a blue void:


(the Blue of Derek Jarman, Mark Jeffery tells me later)


To The North:

         N O T H I N G

To The South:

         N  O  T  H  I  N G

To The East:    

          N    O   T   H   I   N   G

To The West:      

          N    O   T  H  I  N  G   


                                                         (as chanted by Siri or Judd Morrissey)


It’s impossible to crack the code of this performance


There is no center except the inversion, which is constant


The constant determination of sacrifice


When a folk dance is happening you know there’s a sacrifice somewhere over the horizon


Les mamelles de Tirésias < > Alan Turing’s chemical castration


Act 1 of Apollinaire’s play:


Thérèse tires of her life as a woman and becomes the male Tirésias when her breasts turn into balloons and float away. Her husband is not pleased by this, still less so when she ties him up and dresses him as a woman.


Act 2 of Apollinaire’s play:


The curtain rises to cries of “Papa!” The husband’s project has been a spectacular success, and he has given birth to 40,049 children in a single day.

Ecoutez, ô Français, les leçons de la guerre
Et faites des enfants, vous qui n’en faisiez guère
Cher public: faites des enfants!
Heed, o Frenchmen, the lessons of the war
And make babies, you who hardly ever make them!
Dear audience: Make babies!

“Dear audience” here means “Queer audience”


Let’s fuck like Morphogenesis and Surrealism


on the warm, circular fold left


by the bare ass of Kjell


under the obby øss



For information about the last weekend of performances visit: http://www.grahamfoundation.org/public_events/5552-kjell-thery

For information about the corresponding exhibit visit: https://imss.org/kjell/

To live stream the final Saturday (Feb 4th) performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdQz7i4Rh1o&feature=youtu.be


Marissa Perel is an artist and writer based in NY. She was an editor of Critical Correspondence, the online journal of Movement Research, and founded the column, “Gimme Shelter: Performance Now” for Art21 Magazine. www.marissaperel.com