“Gabriel” is a site-specific performative project based on my intimate written communications with a man named Gabriel imprisoned in a California Correctional Institution in the Antelope Desert. For years, I wrote to Gabriel, who mailed drawings, dozens of letters and once, a photograph. He would send me meticulously shaded pictures of teddy bears and tattoo flash designs and I would send him photos of landscapes I had traveled in, and of chosen family. Erotic fantasies developed as one of us would take up and embellish a story of the other’s; this is how the two of us came to know each other.
In one of his letters to me, Gabriel wrote about a fantasy he had in which we are both lifted into the air by an angel from our respective homes and unite in his namesake mountains that he could see from his cell window: the San Gabriel Mountains. There, we unite and alight, set down on the barren peak and make love.
From a crossroads at the edge of a massive fire scar on Mount Disappointment, so named for the discovery that it is not the highest mountain in the chain, I slowly danced an elaborate sunset ritual of visibility—a reminder that Gabriel is remembered and that one day incarceration may be abolished. Using this site, an hour outside Los Angeles, I employed elements of western ritual magic to invoke the Archangel Gabriel’s spirit, explore our sexual unification and to enact the empowerment of the man’s spirit.
The fantasy was performed again on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City a month later, to connect the collective fantasy with the land of Gabriel’s birth.