Kjell Theory

2016-2018

Materials: horse hair, silk, denim, felt, fake flowers

This series of costumes was made in collaboration with performance company ATOM-r for their piece Kjell Theory. This piece was performed at the Graham Foundation and exhibited at the International Museum of Surgical Science as a part of an ongoing residency program.

Anatomical Theaters of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r) is a provisional collective exploring forensics, anatomy, and 21st century embodiment through performance, language and emerging technologies. Participants include Mark Jeffery (choreography), Judd Morrissey (text and technology), Justin Deschamps and Christopher Knowlton (collaborators/performers).

Kjell Theøry: Prologue is an exhibition and Augmented Reality (AR) experience juxtaposing the historical narrative of gay computing pioneer Alan Turing’s forced chemical castration and subsequent gynecomastia (development of breasts) with algorithmic mutations of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play, Les Mamelles de Tirésias (Tirésias’ Breasts), a genderfluid spectacle for which the author invented the word “surrealism.” In Apollinaire’s play, a woman Theresa, transforms into the male prophet, Tiresias, while her husband gives birth to 40,049 babies. The play was intended as a staged plea for the men of France to replenish the population after the devastation of the first world war.  

In the last two years of his life, Alan Turing began to visit Scandinavia, seeking tolerance and pursuing desire, following his prosecution for crimes of indecency. He had shifted his focus from computing to biology and was developing a theory of morphogenesis, the autonomous generation of flowers and other natural forms. It appears, from his notes, that he named his theory for a male Norwegian love interest, Kjell. His situation with whom he calls Den Norske Gutte, the “Norwegian boy,” is poorly documented but evidence suggests that it threatened to escalate into further legal troubles.

Kjell Theøry: Prologue is a poetic and choreographic system that blurs the boundaries between the binaries of physical and virtual space, past and future, male and female genders, and human and machine.

© 2020 by Grace DuVal. All Rights Reserved.