Mandy Greer’s Mater Matrix Mother and Medium culminated yesterday evening with a performance in the woods. People gathered, squirting bug repellant and drinking lemonade, and then walked to the pond.
We sat on blankets around the water, and Smurfy blue horns oriented us towards the creature that was Zoe Scofield. She was a heap of blue knots, and then she was an animal, connected to the blue knotted stream that rose up through the trees. I’d say, characters included: the music (warbly, organic, nostalgic, elfin), the creature, the pond (amazingly still), the earth (striking shades of brown), the trees (lit perfect by summer evening sky), the blue knot stream. All of the characters were connected, caught in a web together that breathed naturally. Zoe Scofield is nothing short of amazing. Really. At times I would remember that this was a body, a person, with muscles and sinews; and at times there was this new creation with legs that behaved like arms; with toes that had eyes. She dredged up rock knot pods from the pond.
After the performance people swarmed to touch the crochet stream and take pictures of it, as though it were the shed skin of the creature. Or perhaps they were admiring the community-driven knotted thing as though it were the source of the creature?
What I appreciate most about this – and Mandy’s work in general – is that there is really nothing “safe” about it. In fact, it is pretty scary.
I wonder: maybe the “safest” work a contemporary artist could do right now is ironic pencil drawings. I would put Mandy’s work at the opposite end of that spectrum. Crochet, symbolism, pretty colors, sparkly things, fabric, nature– this could be a recipe for (at best) narrow-minded criticism of the variety that longs for (more) ironic pencil drawings; or (at worst), a disaster of My Little Pony proportions.
This is the first performance-based piece I’ve seen of Mandy’s, and I have to admit I was anxious to see if she would be able to pull it off. I wanted to see if it was even possible to pull it off. Well, it is. And more than that, these marginalized, disparate elements were brought together and made to sing. Best of all, it was a song I hadn’t heard before.