22 blown glass fruits filled with ammunition gelatin, sizes vary
Single channel looping video, 20:00
Monoprints 1 - 4
FRUIT is a multimedia installation anchored by blown glass objects, a new collection of monoprints, and a short film. Inspired by a declassified document that identitifies the “fruit machine,” a military device used by the U.S. and Canadian government during the Cold War to detect LGBT individuals, this exhibition examines the semiotics of fruit in relation to the queer body.
The core of the exhibition is comprised of 22 blown glass fruits. Created during an artist residency at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, these exaggerated glass fruits are scaled proportionally to bodily measurements of the artist and later filled with ammunition gelatin. A glass banana the length of LaFleur’s leg, apples the size of her fists, and an impressive grape stem in the proportion of the her spine (complete with head-sized grapes) were borne through research on the historical use of fruit to feminize, criminalize, and sexualize the body. Equally significant to the exhibition is a new single channel video, Boi with A Fruit Basket (2019).
Boi with a Fruit Basket
Single-channel HD video (20:00 min.)
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.
Images above: glass production at Museum of Glass during Artist Residency, 2018