The Cesspool of Rapture

Central to The Cesspool of Rapture, 2017, are moving-image studies of zippers, stains, rips, abrasions, openings, and closings in a series of dresses made by the American couturier Charles James (1906-1978). These videos register and move through James’ garments, his pornographic drawings and graphic illustrations of fastening devices at alternating speeds. This is registered in sound by an encyclopaedic catalogue of sonic gestures derived from the zipper and synced to each individual frame. It is at times violent and at other times tentative and gentle as the uncovering of the damage to the dresses unfolds. Chopped up audio recordings of James explicating his interests in eroticism and sexuality persistently interject the footage. The explicit language of his conversation and his drawings animate the experiences of the people that once wore the garments. 

 

This work includes the installation of a series of reconstructions of James’s 1932 Taxidress. Its black linen body is reconfigured and abstracted as the splayed design makes unfinished seams and unzipped zippers visible. 

 

Sound engineering: Paul Maguire. 

 

The Cesspool of Rapture was exhibited in Sad Mirror, 2018, Xero, Kline & Coma gallery, London; Something To Be Scared Of series at no.w.here, 2018, London & Syndicate Gallery, 2017, Cologne. Screenings include Amended Plastics, 2017, puntWG, Amsterdam; Going Along Without A Body, A Comment On The Sound Track Ritual, 2017, IKLECTIK, London. A performance was staged as part of Stories From The Sculpture City, 2017, Henry Moore Foundation, Leeds.

The Cesspool of Rapture book was published by Ma Bibliothèque in 2019. Available to buy here