PILLOW BOOK AS INHERITANCE: Opening
In “Pillow Book as Inheritance” Thomas explores notions of Birthright through a variation of a Japanese Shunga Pillow Book: a folded-paper illustrated ‘manual for lovers’ with explicit sexual advice often passed down from older to younger generations. Each page of advice contains an ambiguity in the way symbolic plants, animals and identical female exemplars are depicted to move in and out of a perceived power and explores notions of sexual identity convoluted by societal ambivalence and ludicrous notions of class, beauty and privilege created by a commercially driven culture. While each trapezoidal page is commentary on our western societal sexual vernacular elaborating on the visual language of euphemism, idiom, kitsch and pun, the book eschews pure irony in attempts to divide the viewer’s discernment.
CLAIM YOUR BIRTHRIGHT: Closing
Inspired by the likes of Jonathan Lethem, author of “The Ecstasy of Influence” and Lewis Hyde, author of “Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership” and “The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property,” Thomas' opening art talk and closing performance transpired with Hyde’s preferred “gift-economy” in mind. During the closing, the artist's role was to create a departure (a 'point of departure', divergence and exodus and thereby) bequeathing all “notes of the pillow” to the participants who showed up on that day to further engage with the Pillow Book’s current themes on erudition and the passing on of information. The performance was an exploration of agency, punctuating how knowledge is disseminated, while activating relations of power pertaining to sex, the art world and our Western society.