1971, the Los Angeles performance art scene is flourishing. Chris Burden has just ordered a studio assistant to shoot him in the left arm with a rifle, Barbara T Smith is staging provocative interventions at F-Space, and Paul McCarthy is painting his naked body with mustard and ketchup in the name of art. And among them all, Bob Parks: an energetic young artist from the UK, living with his beautiful and interesting San Fransiscan wife, Myriam Morales.
Life is perfect, for a time. But when Bob’s marriage fails, and Myriam leaves for Santa Fe, things fall apart. He walks the streets of Los Angeles for a year in a string bikini and sees his burgeoning art career come to pieces. Having been rescued by the parishioners of a South Central gospel church, and having spent six years worshipping and singing alongside them, Bob finally moves back to the UK to live with his parents in the New Forest.
Despite planning to stay for only six months to finish a series of paintings and gather his thoughts, Bob stays for thirty years. We meet him as he continues to develop his art practice, continues to sing in a gospel church and continues to explore what he calls “the R&B feeling”. Against this backdrop, Bob attempts to break free of a constraining and mutually dependent relationship with his mother, Miggie, whose health is failing. As time goes on Bob’s obsession with his mother – and her impending death – deepens, before reaching a terrible and tragic conclusion.
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