Pieces of Scarlet

Pieces of Scarlet, street action/performance, Chamberlain Square, B’ham City Centre, November, 2000

Fascinated by histories of text and image, pieces of red material with symbols and letters were placed in 25 layers of white undergarments. These were removed layer by layer, in a public site, and the ‘pieces of scarlet’ handed out to the public.

Both symbols and letters were historically believed to have magical properties if worn next to the skin. Often single alphabetical letters replaced symbols as people became literate. Wearing these texts next to the skin, and peeling them off layer by layer was a metaphor for the palimpsest of the self. A historical play with text, symbol, gift and gender.

Transposing archaic belief in text and image to a modern day site, the performance documentation also explores  the female body in modern architectural space. The city centre is a public site of interaction, and making gifts to strangers in this way also work also explored sexuality and the masquerade of femininity.

Video documentation  Camera: Paul Ward, available soon.