Spilling Ink with My Mother: a record by Mána Taylor

Spilling Ink with My Mother a performance by Mána Taylor and Nora Taylor
February 7, 15, and 22 2020
“What Remains: On The Sacred, The Lost, and The Forgotten Relics of Live Art” DFBRL8R, Chicago
photo by: Ali Asgar
Joseph Ravens, the director and founder of Defibrillator (DFBRL8R) has an archive of performances, boxes of objects left behind when performers have left the stage: a red chair, a burnt passport, lightbulbs, rocks, etc. The material aftermath of an event, besides photos and other forms of documentation. A monument to the ephemeral.
Curator ieke Trinks helped organize an open call for artists to respond to one of these artifacts by creating a new performance. An homage to the artifact, a performative re-imagining of the past. The month-long event is called “What Remains: On The Sacred, The Lost, and The Forgotten Relics of Live Art.” February 7th was the opening night. I performed with my mother.
My mother is an art historian and has always been interested in archives. We do not consider ourselves performance artists, but decided to contribute in ways that would feel personal and unique to who we are, separate from the performance art that we knew. We found a relic that was comprised of a bottle of ink and a large painting of flowers that had been drowned in black ink, as if the ink had been thrown onto the paper. These were the remains of a performance by artist Chun Hua Catherine Dong.
We decided to write letters to each other as a durational performance piece, using paper from her collection of hotel stationery from around the world. I wrote on my typewriter and she wrote with her ink pens on this hotel stationery, imagining ourselves in these other lands, immersed in different countries and personas. It was a silent performance, almost like a secret one.
We were sitting by the windows, at a desk, writing. All while other performances were happening, while audience members were drinking and talking and not afraid to get up close. I felt strange and objectified. People were reading my words, it made me remember how writing is such an intimate act. And writing a letter is even more private since it is directed to one individual, but maybe it is a performative act in its own way in the sense that you are not speaking directly to the reader. You are creating something specific for them to read about your environment. We were bridging these two worlds of public and private, performative and intimate.
Mána Taylor is a writer, researcher, and artist based in Chicago, IL. She studied Human Rights and Literature at Bard College and is interested in the intersections between art and journalism, as well as the documentary genre.