Gimp Zine - Issue 2, 1996
Suran Song is a performance artist and for the most part I always thought they got a bad rap because they are doing these things that most people do not understand. At least this is what I thought until I started meeting more of them. Suran has performed in many spaces in NYC, LA and Chicago. She graduated from an alternative highschool in Michigan when she was 16 and received her MFA by the time she was 23. Anyway, she is motivated and has a lot to say. She is currently doing performances on the World Wide Web using the CUSEEME software developed with the help of the Magical Fox Network and has a band called Stag. M.F.N., is a software company that recently took on Ticket Master as an alternative to them. In other words this company takes less of your money when you want tickets for Pearl Jam.
My favorite piece of Suran's involves sculpture and performance called Honey Box. Honey Box is this life size oral wooden harp box, the sound is amplified through a Marshall amp she uses the element of time while she makes music with her mouth.
What inspired the Honey Box?
I guess I was thinking a lot about music and violence and trying to come up with some sort of format that would offer me some sort of salvation. Honey being the time factor, the beginning and the end of the noise and self-inflicted pain, the sweetness of time, the duration of the wait before I can stop hurting myself. I'm licking and teething on the strings while this pool of honey which I push off the top of the box slowly runs down the side of the box; when the honey hits my foot it's over.
How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea from reading Venus in Furs from Jasoch. And thinking where is the power in masochism? Deleuze talks about it in terms of punnit squares, genetic boxes; Saddist; sadist (Ss) Sadist: masocis (Sm), Masocist, sadist (Ms), Masocist: masocist (Mm), Salvation being just the right genetic permutation to provide a formal framework, body or box, to release these energies. When I performed it, some people couldn't watch it because of the blood. I couldn't eat for three days after, my tongue was swollen and torn up. The noise I was making was loud because it was generated from 32 guitar strings. I put three acoustic piano picks underneath the strings along the inside of the box. It was amplified through a Marshall amp. It sounded Indian. The first time I did it, it took 12 and 1/2 minutes I've got it down to 8 minutes. It depends on the temperature of the honey. When I step out of the box, I have honey on my foot and on my white T-shirt there is blood.
What do you like about this?
I like it because it is a miniature action but the sound is so big. It amplifies the action so it makes me think "why I'm hurting myself." By confronting myself distructiveness which cannot be ignored. Licking those strings with my toungue for 15 minutes encapsulates and freezes the experience of pain and it becomes meditative at that point.
What happened to the bloody T-shirt?
The gallery where I did the piece, sold it. What was creepy? There was this whole bunch who were into watching me hurt myself.
It was a premise for them to ask me out. I know it was kinky but I didn't realize it was a turn on. They couldn't see me I was in a white box.
Is this before or after your were a riot grrl.
I did this piece in '92. I left riot grrl in '93. It was towards the beginning of that strong women in music thing. (Swim) It turned into a fraternity of women 18 and 22 --a shear rock n roll network. It got really homogeneous. When it started there was more to learn from the older women, this nurse used to have the best things to say. There were all walks of life: a junior high math teacher, older poets, and writers. Then when the S.W.I.M. thing started to happen people who were into different profession started to drop out --it became limited.
How did you find out about Riot grrls.
I found out about it from Sandra York who used to book the Knitting Factory. She saw this Growing Face piece I did and told me about the meetings and I started going in late '91.
What is a crucial point you think your work is trying to get across.
I guess I'm looking at issues of oral fixation and absolution. The mouth and the relation to intimacy. How from intimacy you can have liberation and perversion. How these things work against or with one another. Sometimes you have to be perverted to be liberated and sometimes too much liberation becomes useless narcissims. And then it becomes its own perversion.
A trap you cannot get out of.
Like the box. Why would you do these things?
It has a lot to do with finding out where my sources of guilt are and trying to uproot them.
What kind of guilt?
Guilt, that I have wrongfully internalized that controls me rather than, plain guilt, that is in the form of general remorse --like an authority figure or advertising icon that makes me feel like a loser if I dont buy their product. I'm trying to get rid of self-hate. Like a super model selling you a pair of jeans that just weren't mean to be or my fabulous Gimp models selling you the zine (She Laughs)