Yesterday evening The Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for the Book presented New York-based artist Lesley Dill. Dill spoke philosophically and with humor about how language informs/shapes her work and our lives. It was so good.
I fell in l-o-v-e with Dill’s sculptures and prints when the Portland Museum of Art exhibited her work in 1999. Her use of language (especially that of Emily Dickinson), the wide range of materials/mediums, and her sacred/profane thoughtfulness and clarity has drawn me back to her work regularly.
Last night, my heart beat accelerated when she showed excerpts from her opera and spoke of other performance art pieces she’s done recently. It is the ultimate intersection (of the things I love): books and performance.
The video below is a 204 piece entitled “I Dismantle” which is a performance based around costume Dill designed. “The performer walks in costume, wearing 20 rolled up scrolls of language. In many ways, this is what we do in life: we carry our language with us all the time. The performer stops. Four women come quietly to her; slowly they start to unravel, to dismantle, and to express her language out into the world. They unroll the fabric panels with care and gentleness, as if they are tending her, midwiving her words out. The language on the cloth is from an Emily Dickinson poem, it reads “A Single Screw of Flesh is all that Pins the Soul.”
Oh, did I mention she’s from Maine?