Stills from Intercourse with… by Hannah Wilke, 1976
In this haunting performance, Wilke conflates the private and the public as autobiographical theater. The audience “eavesdrops” on a series of phone messages intended for Wilke, recorded from her answering machine. This voice-over litany of messages becomes an intimate if one-sided narrative of Wilke’s life, a diary of personal and professional relationships — family, lovers, friends, colleagues — that is oddly elegiac. Wilke strips to reveal that her body is covered with the names of the individuals we have heard speaking; she then methodically removes the names until all traces have disappeared.
“Since 1960, I have been concerned with the creation of a formal imagery that is specifically female, a new language that fuses mind and body into erotic objects that are namable and at the same time quite abstract. Its content has always related to my own body and feelings, reflecting pleasure as well as pain, the ambiguity and complexity of emotions. Human gestures, multi-layered metaphysical symbols below the gut level translated into an art close to laughter, making love, shaking hands … Eating fortune cookies instead of signing them, chewing gum into androgynous objects … Delicate definitions …Rearranging the touch of sensuality with a residual magic made from laundry lint or latex loosely laid out like love vulnerably exposed … continually exposing myself to whatever situation occurs … gamboling as well as gambling.”
- Guy: What do girls do at sleepovers?
- Me: Pass the Bechdel test.