Revisiting Harry Harlow’s experiments on infant monkeys in the 50s, I created a delegated performance inviting participants to reflect on their experience with their maternal parent, guardian, or lack there of.
Through found materials, vinyl stickers, and the sterile gallery space, the situation became an experimental incubator for intimacy as well as isolation. The simple text “HUG ME” on a found mannequin and the accessibility of technology prompted participants to either witness or to engage in embracing the mannequin while listening to a song by My Brightest Diamond entitled “I Have Never Loved Another.”
While Harlow experimented on rhesus monkeys and challenged the ethics of animal testing, I subverted this form in the context of the art world. I created a vulnerable situation for an audience of fellow artists within the confines of an academic institution. The participant embraces plastic, metal, and synthetic cloth. The sentimental song conjures a sense of longing for a mother figure in the profoundly lonely context of the art world. Some seek the art gallery or museum in hopes of a spiritual connection or admiration of a beautiful object. The voyeur also creates feelings of curiosity, envy, or embarrassment for the performer while the voyeur becomes implicated as the Harlow-like observer.