Bring back some good or bad memories


March 10, 2022

Melons (1998) by Patty Chang

In Melons (At a Loss) (1998), a single-take video, Patty Chang narrates a monologue about an imagined cultural ritual of being given a commemorative plate of her deceased aunt, who passed due to breast cancer.

She simultaneously attempts to perform cutting, deseeding, and eating a cantaloupe that is held inside her long-line bra, all the while balancing a plate on her head. The melon appears to be uncannily synonymous with Chang’s breast. Chang takes a serrated knife to slice it open in an act of self-mutilation. Eating the melon, then, is also a form of a cannibalistic devouring of the self. The gesture paired with an attempt to sustain the monologue of imagined ritual becomes a site of production for the construction of memory, narrative, and gender.
Melons is a video based on images and script about my aunt’s death from breast cancer and the emotion void in my memory. The text is a construction of rituals that plays with notions of the authentic. The act of juggling too much text and imagery immerses the viewer in a third, imagined narrative.”
Eve Oishi writes of Patty Chang’s work in Camera Obscura: “Her performance pieces can be best described as balancing acts, not only in the way she manipulates her body but in her ability to create works that juxtapose absolute stillness with explosive tension, sly humor with incisive revelation, and penetrating commentary with emotional force.”

Patty Chang (born 1972) is an American performance artist and film director living and working in Los Angeles, California. Originally trained as a painter, Chang received her Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, San Diego. It wasn’t until she moved to New York that she became involved with the performance art scene.

She has staged solo shows in major cities, including Patty Chang at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York (1999), Ven conmigo, nada contigo. Fuente. Melones. Afeitada. at Museo National de Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2000), Patty Chang: Shangri-La at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the New Museum, New York (2005), Flotsam Jetsam with longtime collaborator David Kelley at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014), and her most extensive exhibition to date, Patty Chang: The Wandering Lake, 2009-2017, at the Queens Museum, Queens, NY (2017–18).


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