I’ve always thought it’s a little bit funny that the way we furnish our homes so closely reflects our gender and societal role. Furniture is anthropomorphic by necessity, and then we clothe it with the same meticulous care that we dress ourselves. For the sake of seemliness, clothing conceals our most intimate parts and refines the shapes of our bodies, covering the soft, hairy, smelly, moist, dimpled, and wrinkly indicators of our animal nature. Our clothes affirm our gender while veiling our sexuality. Likewise, the fabrics, cushions, drapes and duvets that appoint our homes distract from the messy realities of personhood while redirecting attention to our prescribed social role. For example, a leather arm chair may be described masculine because it’s sleek, yet sturdy construction reminds us of qualities that we are culturally programed to believe men should have, not because it has testicles and a hairy back. Bedrooms, where pillows and ruffles overlay the night’s perspirations, can be particularly telling of this paradox. For Preservatif, I have stripped two mattresses nude and imbued them with sexual energy that is not specific to one human gender or another. Though their activity is explicit, these strange yet familiar beasts are as benign and preoccupied as a pair of mating slugs. It is my hope that observing Tango cajoles viewers in to considering their own relationships, sexual quirks, and furtive inclinations slightly freer from the burden of conformity.
Melissa Farris lives, works, and makes in Memphis, Tennessee. She has exhibited work in art spaces including Marshal Arts, Material Gallery, Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Crosstown Arts. Farris is the Programs and Exhibits Curator for the Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange and also curates Art of Science, an annual exhibit at the Hyde Gallery.