In the spirit of celebrating poetry, art, theory, experimentation and the intersection of such necessities, I present the work of Lydon MacGregor. "This is not a burial ( I am planting the history of my presence to grow in my absence )" is an installation and performance piece that both demands attention and begs to be forgotten. The supplemental poem "Half a Letter" (which was read during the performance) devastated me upon first hearing it and I am shamelessly still affected by it, very deeply in fact. Lydon folds words inside out and breaths energy into them, while still somehow treating them as delicately and violently as shards of glass. This metaphysical yet meticulously contained work examines desire, queerness and language--and what those look like reflected by the Other. And why that does or does not matter. And who is the Other? A piece of oneself or an entirely separate entity to be loathed and/or desired?
So, dear readers, indulge in Lydon's writing, listen to their voice-- and think of them when you feel nothing (something).
What are the possibilities of erasure? Of reclaiming? What does one do with the leftovers? Where can I put them? Based on my written piece, “half a letter” this work traverses such questions. Situated in the realm of Derrida with regards to the trace, this installation insists on the potentiality of erasure. Using physical techniques of erasure upon collected objects such as Polaroid photographs, ticket stubs, notecards, receipts, envelopes, birthday cards, letter correspondences, and images of various sorts, I reclaim these objects while simultaneously developing a new language of objects. The multiplicity of this reclamation emerges by means of the walls and the space itself, as the items are then spackled and sanded (necessarily additive and reductive) into my studio walls. Remnants are left not only in the form of adhered objects, but also in the spackle dust remaining after hours of sanding—constantly shedding, shifting, and dispersing as time passes and with each new encounter.
This work highlights the importance of the space of art-making—beyond just physical and conceptual—not solely for expressing an idea, but more urgently as a space for the particular gestures, intimacies, and language (as well as their questioning) deemed unwarranted, strange, or unwelcome in the face of typical notions of reality and behavioral expectations. Recognizing my studio as such a space, the title addresses this history in such a way that evokes a certain present and imagines the possibility of a future. Using performative methods of erasure and embodiment, this work explicates the idea of a constant becoming as it dissolves structures of linearity through new modes of artistic practice. Asserting that what is leftover will continue, my last gesture as part of this final installation in my studio included painting over these reclaimed items: planting a history and leaving it to grow.
Elements of performance in this work distinctly emphasize the importance of fragments as generative modes of apprehension. Here, performing “half a letter”—which serves as the conceptual basis of this project as my own reclamation of language, and also as the loose, ephemeral script that is translated into a visually-articulated installation. In the face of the failures of language, of the excess of intimate gestures, of the collapsing of the space to put them (i.e. the ability to speak to another), I delve into the (ir)reducible ‘unknot’ of (inter)subjectivity through reclaiming. Reciting the letter—not to the audience, but rather to the space itself (personified as this other) and to myself (necessarily speaking to me as myself and me as this other), I attempt to blur distinctions between subjects. Embodying this other—wearing their clothes and mimicking their gestures throughout my performance—I evoke a plurality of presence through refusal and reclamation of absence.
Written in the form of a letter, this poem explicates my profound attachment to language across all realms, particularly with respect to intimacy and expression. After a painful hiatus from writing—finding it nearly impossible as a result of a massive disruption in my relationship to it by means of the experience of another—“half a letter” is a reconciliation of sorts, an apology undelivered.
Lydon MacGregor is a queer artist and writer, perpetually out of focus. They hold a BFA in Fine Arts though they’re not sure if they’ve ever touched it. They are in a tumultuous relationship with language and space and “it’s complicated.” They hug themselves in the mirror and they ask if anything touches. They write on your walls and plant poems in your garden. They mimic you out of order and dig diagrams into the sand. Their work is ephemera of a point not-yet-reached and they know that they’ll never be finished.