Hand in Glove: sinister hand vested sable lozengy couped

‘Hand in Glove’ intercuts men’s bodybuilding poses with the charges of heraldry. An exploration of looking and being seen, the performance references Lacanian theory, and ideas around disgust and display.

The performance mixes medieval heraldic rules for structuring a coat of arms with rules for men’s competition bodybuilding. The seven compulsory body-building poses are overlaid with the charges of heraldry, in an exploration of the gaze and with quotations from selected queer narrative writers (Robert Glück, Dennis Cooper, David Wojnarowicz). Examining scenes of looking, seeing and being seen, the performance draws on Lacanian theory, and ideas around disgust, abjection and gesture.

scenario: The performer enters and switches on a camera on a tripod, a projector connected to this camera, and a spotlight on a stand. He takes a black rubber glove and fits it on one hand. When the glove is smooth he takes a tube of lubricant and applies a generous amount over the gloved hand. He then holds the gloved and shiny hand up in the beam of a spotlight, and checks that it is in range of the video camera, and clearly visible on a projection screen behind him. For each of the seven sections he holds the gloved hand in the light and within camera range in a different reduced mime of a competition pose. He reads, he talks to the audience, he embarrasses himself, he loses his thread, he may or may not get his point across, it may be too complicated, it may not make sense.

(photos: Bobby Whittaker)


Dartington College of Arts, Devon, UK; 13th December 2004

Dartington College of Arts in a revised version; 4th December 2005

Geekfest, Bournemouth, UK, in a text version with images; 10th June 2006

Tempting Failure (curated by Thomas J Bacon), ]performance space[, Hackney Wick, London; 4th March 2012

” Hand In Glove is a sharp and charming work; it intercuts male bodybuilding poses with prose and psychoanalytic theory in order to explore these intersections in a variety of tones. … the carefully interwoven text is both violent and evocative.” (from review at Exeunt by Diana Damian)


‘hand in glove: sinister hand vested sable lozengy couped’ in Open Letter, 14th series, no. 8, Spring 2012; ‘Negotiating the Social Bond of Poetics’ (guest-edited by Nancy Gillespie and Peter Jaeger), pp 74-82

Link to the performance text here