a body is a body is a body
Language folds and falls in on itself in this new video work by artist duo Cat and Éiméar McClay. Animated 3D tableaus of Catholic paraphernalia and strikes of elemental weather accompany the words. Together, they enact the historically fraught relationship between queerness and the Catholic church.
How is a body—particularly a queer body—narrated? a body is a body is a body deals with the coexisting forces of lived experience and the external structures that shape it. The subtitle text haunts the video like a spirit; unspoken yet uncannily close and corporeal in its depictions. Elusively, it slips from the body of a twin to the body of a lover, from pleasure to violence, from pious to unrepressed. Imbued with a power of their own, these words create and suppress, get close and push away. In an amalgamation of experimental literature, prayers and queer erotics, the text curls in on itself; repeating, re-telling and undoing.
Digitally imaged scenes, which begin as religious still lifes, are taken over by a different kind of supernatural power. Closer to witchcraft and magic, Catholic icons and ornaments hover and float. Rain, fire and flood—both biblical and spell-like—disrupt and break through the images.
Like these objects, the bodies also float in a disembodied nowhere. Invisible but formed in the video’s silent narration. Between desire and language, tradition and awakening—slippery and wet in their anguished specificity. a body is a body is a body weaves between the abject, spiritual, violent and tender. It is a surreal, unsettling look at the legacies of Catholicism and witchcraft, revealing the capacity of queer desire to undo and retell what a body can be. —Christina Demetriou
Cat and Éiméar McClay are Irish-born collaborative artists currently based in Edinburgh. They both graduated in Intermedia Art from Edinburgh College of Art in 2020. Their collaborative practice considers ideas of queerness, abjection and patriarchal systems of power and oppression through an interdisciplinary body of work comprising video, 3D models, installation and digital collage. It draws on and seeks to examine the historical narration of the queer body within heteronormative society. Recent exhibitions and awards include Trading Zone 2019 at Talbot Rice gallery (Edinburgh), Futurelab, West Bund Centre (Shanghai), Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020 Selected Artists, Friends of the University of Edinburgh Visual Art Award 2020, RSA New Contemporaries 2021 and CCA digital residency participants 2021.
I Guess I Need You Baby (2021), a body is a body is a body (2021), MAGIC ISN’T WORKING (2020), Queer Use (2020), You Couldn’t Tell the Difference Between a Snowflake and a Star (2019)