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Catstycam Coffee Mountain 18/10/08 photo by Ottavia Castellina

performed at “Human Resources”, afternoon of performance curated by Frog Morris and Lee Campbell, for the closing weekend of exhibition “If You Can’t Close This Door Don’t Open It”, V22 Wharf Road Project, London, 18th October 2008

I had been camping in the English Lake District during August and September, during which time I had seen and sketched, but not had opportunity to climb, a pretty, pyramidal mountain named Catstycam. Back in London, walking one day along the Old Kent Road, I was thinking of that mountain, thinking how much I would like to climb it, and then I started to think that I could make a performance in which I daydreamed an ascent through other means. When I got home I turned on my computer and there was an e-mail from Frog Morris inviting me to make a performance in a newly-built but as yet unoccupied office building on Wharf Road. That afternoon I made a large brush drawing of Catstycam, from the sketch in my expedition journal, to act as backdrop to the performance.

I taped my drawing to the wall and spread out my other materials on the freshly carpeted floor. I plugged in a kettle and boiled some water, brewed some coffee in a cafetiere. I put down plastic sheeting, and on top of that a green blanket. At the head of the blanket I built a replica of Catstycam out of branches, using my drawing on the wall as a template. The mountain-form built, I stuffed it with leaves, and then with leftover coffee. I traced the path up the mountain with sugar, and retraced the path with my fingers. I cut the foil of the coffee packet into ribbons and added these decoratively to the mountain.

I poured out the brewed coffee into a glass bowl, added some cold water to keep it from scalding, and palmed the wet coffee grounds up my arms. I washed my face in the bowl of coffee, and drank some.

I took off my jumper and t-shirt and lay down on the blanket with my head resting on the mountain. I pulled the mountain first over my head and then down over my torso. Then I took the bowl of coffee and slowly poured it over myself, up and down over my chest and stomach. It felt incredible! So good, just the right temperature, I felt it so warmly flowing down over my sides.

I stayed down there a while, breathing exaggeratedly to make the collapsed mountain rise and fall, and finally climbed up out through it. I took a look around my scattered materials, and pulled my t-shirt and jumper back up over my head. Standing up, I felt the coffee, for some time, sliding down over my legs etc.

Of all of the performances I have made so far (I am writing after making twenty-one), this one was physically the most pleasurable.

(When I took off my hiking boots and placed them in a confrontational pose vis-à-vis the pyramidal mountain, that was a quote of Philip Guston’s painting “Pyramid And Shoe”, 1977.)

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