Marry Me to the End of Love

2 separate installations in Cité Internationale des Arts of Paris and UC Berkeley, respecvively - Love seat, sewing needle, perfume, flowers, honey, coin jar, hourglass, contract, wax sealed envelope, Polaroid camera, marriage album, "Made to Marriage" stamp and a lot of love.

Artist Statement

To open the Paris' Arts and Arena Festival at Cite des Arts I announce my marriage to participants in an interactive performance: Marry Me to The End of Love. Participants will enter the exhibit space and we will commence to negotiate the terms of our temporary marriage. The idea is inspired by the concept of Mut'ah/Sigheh, a short-term matrimony practiced in Shi'a Islam. The marriage begins with a dowry exchange and dissolves upon completion of duties stipulated in a contract. The first introduction of temporary marriage into my body of work was when I infiltrated Marina Abramovic's live sculpture, "The Artist is Present" at the New York MoMA and proposed marriage to her: "I love your bodies of work... and I would love to be wedded to this body, here and now." My earlier exhibits coupled with the tradition of Sigheh, illustrates the discontinuities embodied in my body of work and the body within the confines of my skin. I am "The Other Artist" who is "Present," and also gay. My fascination with temporary marriage acknowledges its lack of egalitarianism, for example male and female partners are not understood as equal—women must either be widowed or divorced before allowed to actively seek temporary partners. Nevertheless, the beauty of Sigheh comes from its ability to confront such inequalities forthrightly. Sigheh is also progressive in how it recognizes that love and desire are temporal, shifting, and always changing. It also sheds light on the transactional aspect of any relationship. But above all, this Islamic edict, also known as "pleasure marriage," permits desire for desire's sake rather than for procreation. Introducing Sigheh into the lexicon of performance art it throws conversations about marriage off kilter just enough to open up different paths and lines of inquiry.

This project is compelled by the shift in queer reflections over the past three decades generally, and the recent the "progressive" push to approve same sex marriage in the public sphere specifically. Queer as a disfavored identity is now "covering" and "passing"—compartmentalized into mainstream recognition. Perhaps Kenji Yoshino articulates the anxiety rousing this exhibit, "only if we behave like insiders - that is, only if we cover" is our behavior accepted, and this covering, "hurts... our most valuable commitments." Rather, only if we perform within the confines of a heteronormative paradigm is gay passing. President Obama for example, said that he has come to accept same-sex marriage because some gay people serve in the military and are "incredibly committed monogamous relationships." It is ironic that to be considered progressive today, one must adopt a conventional attitude and conform to the confines of a failing conservative institution. To not be completely overwhelmed by such absurdities, I chose instead, to playfully engage in the perplexing reasoning bellowing beneath the surface of this optimistic cruelty by performing a series of temporary Sigheh marriages.

Queer was introduced as a disruptive force pushing against normatively. However, in today's political landscape queer is used in, and for, certain formations of power. Today gay rights are leveraged to justify the impending war in Iran and the treatment of gays is used to calibrate who is other. Where then, in this schema, do I locate my body? My body, both physically and meta-physically, occupies the space between both. The multiple temporalities and territories converge to suggest new and old ways of understanding desire, and the body. The multiple temporalities and territories converge to suggest new and old ways of understanding desire and the body. This performance is my attempt to join conversations that seek to disarticulate desire from power, individual pleasure from collective corporal control over the body—the body here is both the physical body humans inhabit and the artistic body of work. I will enter temporary marriages with partners from all genders, ages, and orientations, thus subverting the religious, sexual, and cultural dichotomies that created it, that control and categorize the body—my particular body and all its ambiguous glory.

Project Description

A loveseat is centered at the far end of a ten by eight ft. space demarcated by rope lining the floor. In front of the loveseat is a coffee table with two glass jars filled with money, a clipboard stacked with marriage contracts, an hourglass, and a small bowl of honey. To the far right is a clothing-rack where many identical white shirts hang. Next to the rack is a small table with perfume, ties, razors, and accessories on it. At the opposite end of the space directly in front of the loveseat, there are two candleholders with a television set in between, which also functions as a mirror. The artist/groom sits on the loveseat waiting for his next spouse, brought by the best man or made-of-honor. They begin to verbally negotiate the terms of their temporary marriage (Mut'ah/Sigheh). A Polaroid photo is taken of the couple as they commence to perform the terms of their marriage (including anything from kissing, to moving furniture together, to touching elbows, etc). At the end, the spouse is handed a copy of the fulfilled contract placed in an extravagant envelope, and sealed with a candle wax stamp. Now alone, the artist takes both the Polaroid photo and the original marriage contract and files them in a wedding album, then placed behind the loveseat so patrons can view the ceremonies that passed. Between each performance, the artist hums, sings, and lights candles. He changes his clothes; sprays himself with rosewater perfume—preparing for his next marriage.