Anacrónica III: The Mesmeric Sermons of the Nudists
A cross-institutional collaboration, Anacrónica III: The Mesmeric Sermons of the Nudists is a project by the performer and researcher Garrett Nelson, inspired by the work and legacy of the late Swiss artist Cathy Josefowitz (1956–2014). Nelson was granted access to the archive of the entire oeuvre of Cathy Josefowitz, to create what can be understood as a cross-generational dialogue between two artists who work(ed) at the intersection of dance, performance, and queer studies.
Anacrónica III: The Mesmeric Sermons of the Nudists is the third and final piece in a trilogy of installation and performance, where Garrett Nelson shows new sculptures and paintings alongside the work of Cathy Josefowitz. Nelson’s new performance, shown in the black box theater space of Centre culturel suisse, is set in a dreamlike space. It includes cave painting shadows, painted bodysuits, traditional Swiss artifacts, and two new paintings of darkroom sex scenes. It stars the Parisian dancers Marius Barthaux and Simon Peretti in a narrated choreography of lustful delusion and misplaced time, a poem about a tablecloth and a house made of mist, as well as a homage to the Italian poet Sandro Penna (1906, Perugia–1977, Rome). Largely unpublished, Penna’s work comprises poetry and a few novels exploring homosexual love and sexuality. During his lifetime, his work was revealed and supported by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Umberto Saba.
Nelson’s performance concludes with A Sailor Being Tired, an Appalachian Ballad, which originates from near Indiana, US, where the artist was born and to where their ancestors immigrated. Derived from various European and African influences, including English ballads, Irish and Scottish traditional music, and African American blues, Appalachian music often evokes nostalgic memories of home and loved ones. The artist created the title of the work, The Mesmeric Sermons of the Nudists from a positivized inversion of a line from Albert Camus’s unpretentious vignette of naked eaters in Summer in Algiers (1954): “…undressing every day at noon for a frugal lunch in the sun. Not that they have read the boring sermons of the nudists, those Protestants of the flesh (there is a theory of the body quite as tiresome as that of the mind).”
Garrett Nelson was invited to develop this project organized jointly by Arsenic — Contemporary performing arts center, Lausanne, Centre culturel suisse, Paris, La Becque | artist residency, La Tour-de-Peilz, and Kunsthaus Langenthal, in collaboration with curator Elise Lammer and the estate of Cathy Josefowitz. The new performance and exhibition presented at Centre culturel suisse follow a one-month residency in summer 2021 at La Becque, during which Garrett Nelson had access to the Cathy Josefowitz archive in Geneva. Studio visits and exchanges with experts on Cathy Josefowitz’s work and the curators additionally sustained this research. As a result, a new performance piece and sculptures by Garrett Nelson are being shown at Kunsthaus Langenthal, Arsenic, and Centre culturel suisse, alongside the exhibition of Josefowitz’s paintings.
Garrett Nelson makes artworks comprising performance, text, and image. Often directly related to the work of other artists, writers, architects, and activists, their practice creates dialogue, collaboration, and critical analysis, while reframing and accompanying history. They live in Argentina and Switzerland and are a PhD candidate at the Universidad Nacional Córdoba, working on the contemporary history of voice in performance art as a queer feminist strategy of taking space and creating visibility. Past exhibitions and performances of theirs have been shown at Museo de la Ciudad Mexico, Kunsthalle Zurich, Taylor Macklin, Zurich, Oslo10, Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, Centre PasquArt, Biel, SALT Galata Istanbul, Les Urbaines — Lausanne, Biennale Sinop in Istanbul, and Munar — Buenos Aires, among other venues.