Deadly Valentine explores the theme of homicide against women in the moment that the victim’s fate is often sealed: the moment she is legally bound to the man who loves her now, but who will some day turn on her and take her life.
Aspects of this work have been influenced by the shattered garden shed in Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter (1991) and the hauntingly hollow, bedridden forms of Sue Law’s The Life and Death of a Relationship (2007). The use of the yarn is a tribute to Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, who works extensively with threads to create her art. But I have departed from Shiota’s typical use of one kind of filament. Instead, I have used different colors and thicknesses of yarn and thread.
The red color, of course, represents blood and violence: bright red for aortic blood, dark red for venous. The thicker yarns are like the larger blood vessels, while the thinner threads resemble capillaries. Through these vessels, blood spills onto the floor as the free-form recreation of a human body reverses the outside and the inside.
The anonymous emptiness of the dress is a space where any woman could have lain, or could someday lie. The white dress itself represents the purity and sanctity of marriage – but is sullied by the lethal quantities of blood that have drained from its wearer.
We live in a culture where women’s lives are destroyed daily by male abusers. This wrong is widely acknowledged, but male violence continues unabated. Meanwhile, the women who die at the hands of men become mere statistics. I myself barely escaped becoming one of them.
I want to bring humanity back to these grim statistics, and remind everyone who sees this installation that each of these homicides happened to a human being as real and as complex as you are.
During the creation of Deadly Valentine, I lived in this gallery, weaving the yarn. For three nights I did not sleep, and barely ate. Alone in the gallery, weaving yarn at midnight, was an almost meditative experience. I encourage you not to turn away from this disturbing scene, but the meditate on the ideas woven into it.