Adroit, à gauche, a gag (Three Tales After Gustave Flaubert) 2004/10


Adroit… uses the cover image from a Penguin edition of Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Three Tales’ as its source. The cover shows a photograph of a green Amazon parrot, one similar to the stuffed version of which Flaubert had sitting on his desk when he wrote his short story, A Simple Heart (one of his Three Tales, the last works he wrote before he died).
The story is about a simple, devout servant maid, whose life is spent in the service of others, and is dogged by loss and tragedy throughout. Her only abiding connection is to a pet parrot that she acquires through the family she works for. She becomes obsessed with the parrot, even having it stuffed after it dies, and continues to communicate with it as if it were still alive. On her own death-bed she sees the parrot rising above her, in place of the holy spirit.
Though Flaubert wrote the story as a reposte to the criticism he received for Madame Bovary, wanting to write something totally ‘pure’ as he describes it, it is still a subtle critique on class, religion and the nature of relationships in the context of overbearingly prescriptive social conditions.

In the artwork, the artist makes 20 drawings ‘copying’ the cover image of the parrot. This process is videoed.  Throughout the process, the artist wears a microphone tied to her mouth, as a gag, which is also recording her gutteral sounds, and her breathing. As the drawings progress, new narrative forms begin to appear in them, and the distinction between the roles of draw-er and drawn, the real and the representational collapse. 

The work comprises of a number of different video edits of the resulting footage, along with the final 20 drawings, (each 63 x 83 cms).
Video Extract