PATRICK STAFF: WEED KILLER
HD Video, Sound, 17 mins.
Curated by Lissa Corona and Marina Grize
Assistance from Nick Lesley
Courtesy of the Artist
Installation design adapted from MOCA Los Angeles
Suffering, healing, treatment, and therapy. The means we choose to remedy an illness, to resolve a condition that causes us pain or threatens our lives, is dependent on the severity of the affliction.
Patrick Staff (b. 1987, Bognor Regis, UK, lives and works in Los Angeles and London) presents Weed Killer, a video installation serving as meditation on the pharmacological means of treating our ailments. Inspired by Catherine Lord’s memoir, The Summer of Her Baldness (2004), Staff centers the video around a powerful monologue in which an actress reads the author’s description of her experience with cancer, equating chemotherapy to “mainlining weed killer.”
The performers in Staff’s video identify as transgender. The association between trans experience and a narrative about cancer draw attention to the transformative effects of pharmaceutical therapy intended to treat and regulate the body. Through passionate performances, Staff positions desire as an illness, blurring the emotional internal withe the appearance of the external. Weed Killer establishes a relationship between the complexity of personal suffering with the potentially threatening effects of curative substances, posing a question of how we are conditioned to treat that which ails us.