Galleria Bianconi, Milan
SPECULA SPECULORUM is a series of images documenting a performance of a male and female boxer fluctuating between rounds of conflict and intimacy by Cheryl Pope. During rounds of impact, when the female is hit she says THANK YOU and the male boxer says SORRY. Altering tone and character of the voice, sometimes it feels as if the violence is enjoyed, even encouraged, others it is of pain or tolerance. Alternating between rounds of violence is an intimate exchange of gold leafed papers passed between boxers by a game called suck and blow. Each boxer alternates using their breath to lift a gold paper from a stack and carry to their partner to exchange mouth to mouth.
The boxers continue to pass this paper until it one reaches the wall where it is pressed and attached to the wall in a linear sequence. The sequence continues as the boxers fatigue and the weight of the punches and the humor fall away to reveal the violence and complexity of the psychological cycle. The performance concludes with the gold letters on the wall reading HOLD IT AGAINST ME, the title of a text by Jennifer Doyle on Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art. As it connects to much of the discourse in this text, it also connects to the social silence around issues and cycles of abuse within intimate relationships.