Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jehossee Installation: Part One

 My life has not been my own for quite a while now. As I occasionally lament, the Jehossee Plantation project (start here and here if you enjoy redundancy and whining) has for much of the past 9 months, sucked the very life from my feeble, pasty body leaving a pock-marked, increasingly wrinkled, red-tressed husk in its wake.

But now! I'm back. Or getting close to human again, at any rate.The project was technically submitted for a grade before Christmas, on the basis of what I'd finished at that point and an additional written assignment. The delay in the Archives building opening to the public allowed me to drag out the last of the sewing far past the end of the semester, well into this here glorious new year. (Yaaaay, procrastination!!) But all dawdling must eventually culminate in days of frantic activity, and thus the installation day was upon me.

The artist in repose. Actually, I have no idea what I'm doing here. Arranging the burlap. On the floor. With a lingerie hanger. These are troubled times we live in.

I was met in the Archives by a motley crew of donated* dressforms upon which I was expected to perpetrate my grandeur and awesomeness. As I wrestled with them in turn, I came to understand their quirks and gave them names to ease the process and offer a more focused outlet for my invective. The names were easy to remember because they were generally rooted in the unique psychosis/ deformity of each of the Cranky Ladies. (See what I did there?) They were respectively, "Charcoal Charlie," "Jangles," "Crunky Brewster," "Kevin" and "Assless Boobs On A Stick."


The dressforms really were in hilariously bad shape. They all were either rusted into useless heights or worn out so that the gears no longer functioned. Even after being bludgeoned into seeming submission, they continued to flop around in obscenely inviting postures and made the kinds of noises I associate with orgasms amoung the elderly.

 Charcoal Charlie in action. This was the dress form that greeted me when I first arrived and began setting up. I was told that she was tragically burned in a house fire... 40 years ago. This was by far the nicest of the dressforms.

I have no idea what I expected. I've never set up an installation of anything before, (unless you count my canned goods, which I delight in maintaining as though there is a small but proud Grocer who lives in my pantry) but this was quite a challenge. My school's new Archives is a thrice-remodeled building which was recently beautifully furnished with new display cases. (All of which were too heavy to move, so a lot of the creative decision-making on how to arrange the cases themselves was taken out of my hands.)

 You can see Assless Boobs on a Stick chillin' out there behind Jangles, who is sporting Pauline Boudet's fan-front dress. Those sad little calico piles on the floor behind her? That's the last 9 months of my life.

The rest of the materials at my disposal amounted to the fore-mentioned Cranky Ladies and an assortment of used coat hangers and duct tape. All of which I used, mainly on each other. Luckily, I managed to cram most of the dressforms into the lovely, insanely heavy mahogany cases that lined the walls. In order to disguise the fact that no two of them could stand up straight (except Kevin, who was technically, literally a MANnequin) I decided to arrange the garments with some subtle suggestions of natural movement or posture. This worked out well, and prevented the whole mess from looking too formal or staid:

Crunky Brewster turned out to be preggers! Congratulations, CrunkyBrewster!

Because I have lots of problems with being too formal and staid.

Installation day was about 3 weeks ago, and at that time Harriet's dress was not yet finished. So for Part Two, we'll explore that and oh, so much more!


  1. Every blog post of yours manages to make me snort most indelicately with laughter. The mannequins...oh goodness.

    All hilarity aside, what an awesome project! The clothes look fantastic even on less than fantastic "bodies"...much respect!

  2. Thank you!

    Now I'm spoiled. If I ever get an opportunity like this again, I'll end up grousing because the dressforms are too nice. It's super convenient to just blame every errant seam on a piece of random, jutting metal that is somehow integral to the structural stability of one of the Ladies.

    Though seriously, one of them has a load-bearing screwdriver and paper clip deep in her steely guts.