Boi with a Fruit Basket is a 20-minute film that addresses what Dr. Frank Robert Wake coined in the 1950s as the “Fruit Machine,” a series of pupillary response tests, sweat tests, and word associations used to eliminate all lesbians and gay men from the civil service.
Electric cello accompanies text read directly from Dr. Wake’s only declassified report on the “Fruit Machine,” and is performed by soprano/ vocalist Morgan Horning. Recalling anthropological films used to record, replay and dissect the mechanics of bodily communication, the video performance takes Dr. Wake as an unlikely interlocutor for exploring contemporary queer female subjectivity.
Accompanying this video is a collection of text prints identifying 150 words used by Dr. Wake to identify homosexuals. With words like “Bull,” “Coo” and “Cruise,” many of these are double entendre, suggest socially awkward or sexually motivated associations.
Reclaiming what Sontag describes as “a love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration -- something of a private code, and a badge of identity,” this work examines representations of queerness and its relationship to narrative, vernacular, feminist thought, and radical traditions.
This work is also part of the series, Tutti Frutti, in which the artist explores the semiotics of fruit in relation to the queer body.