Teorema Ritournelle


Christina McPhee


Imagine drawing a teorema. A provisional observation. What do you see in the fire and in the plume?

Contemplate the probability that any hypothesis about the world's end is incorrect, add to this a desire to draw lines on the skin of your lover. Make a black paste, thin it. Apply a brush with a narrow ferrule.

Pasolini in Teorema imagines a red desert, the Sinai of Exodus. A soundtrack of Bach inventions advances a faith in inversions.

Pasolini remarks: 'unfortunately the ways of order are always infinite.' (1) Here and there I see slinky edged trace lines like the slime that follows a snail as she moves on the asphalt. It's raining oil in Louisiana.


Temptation (teorema 11) by Christina McPhee, 2010. Graphite, ink and airbrush acyrlic paint on Arches paper. 52 x 72 inches/ 132 x 183 cm


An angel arrives at the villa of a wealthy sick man. No one asks him about his illness. Not the workers to whom he has simply given his factory without explanation--.. The angel appears to each member of the household....The angel is the observing witness... the angel simply lives within the gaze and presence of each...Each makes love to the angel...the angel makes a perfunctory farewell....Each tormented by the memory of the angel, seeks oblivion in repetition, in a ritual of repetition, to regain the lost paradise of being seen by the angel, being possibly known and acknowledged by the angel, the angel... sound of the partitas, Teorema ends.

I asked myself what happens after the end of the Teorema? What provisional observation?

I was allowed to visit closed beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, after the spill, in July 2010.. At Port Fourchon I saw the little balls of oil suffocating the Sargasso algae. Seaweed cannot give off the oxygen, cannot photosynthesize--- They choke in the oil balls, little balls brought in by the millions in the high tide. The oil spill makes a reddish-black paste. Waves deposit an oily archive of ancient diatoms, bacteria, algae, crustaceans, insects, conifers, ferns, Eden, from under the waters.

The delta value on wall street, that's the probable rate of change of a stock. You say, on the trading floor, what delta have you got on these. The rate of change is the rate of flow: flow of the oil flowing capless incommensurate gushing hemorrhage. Blood and oil. Red and black. What's black and white and red all over: the news.

Each drawing arises via the news. Drawing a tacking around a missing event-person or scent left in the air.

'I've got the scent' of the path, dog, am following the scent. Beware of the god who creates 'from nothing' as if consumer products don't come from petroleum. At prime zero cubed from whence the angel may have come. I would have to continue to make teorema drawings ad infinitum in an attempt to get back to the garden, to nothing. I would have to, I used to, in fact, destroy each drawing. After it spoke. I would have always to want to destroy the angel. I would have to fight with it all night.

Nope angel who fights me gives me the night kiss. This is the beginning of the series. A night kiss, coming after 'baby please don't go' after s/he is really gone, after my baby done gone. Then: a freak drawing (untitled). Then: night kiss. A brush of the lips like heaven. Now I live in Eve's house post paradise.


Supplicant and Plume (teorema 19) by Christina Mcphee, 2010. Ink on Arches CP paper. 72 x 44.5 inches / 183 x 112cm


Just about there. The drawings, just about, calligraphy. Over in the Gulf, oil skeins tattoo the epidermis of the ocean. Hey, but. What if I do a line, see what you say. I keep getting visions. The limp dead birds like poor cocks of dead men left over after the killers left too drunk to hide the evidence. But I want to hear a story. The drawing might be just about to tell a bloody Sunday, about a month of Sundays of blood.

Or and also to sing songs in triple sprung rhymes how hers is a lush situation, how her face was dancing like a flame. How crimson flames tied through my ears. How to explode the holes in your bones. How your spot got tooked. What's the delta on these. WTF happened here. The drawing's bloody lips. Lips liking licking the vowels and gutteral stops, the consonant limits. long lines tumble out into cascades. The cascades spread like the spill but not in vain, in veins. Oxygen of drawing is aphasic, moving in and around phase and phrase. These form a mesh or structure that stands, a tadasana. The teorema drawing will stand. Observes you, your wit(h)ness (Bracha Ettinger calls it). Invites your sentence, your your scrape across your mouth. You speak back to the drawing = teorema ritournelle.


What Makes This (teorema 26) by Christina Mcphee, 2010. ink and graphite on Arches CP paper. 64.5 x 44.5 inches / 164 x 112cm



Some notes on my drawing project Teorema(Shed).. started in December 2009 and continuing--June 2010.



[1] Dario Giugliano, "For an (A)e(s)th(et)ics of Apocalypse: Body History Power and Pasolini's Revelation of Consumer Culture," Third Text, Vol. 23, issue 6, November 2009, p. 698, note


A new film on the deep ecology of coastal Louisiana and the algae crisis, Deep Horizon, premiered at Issue Project Room Brooklyn, September 2010 http://www.christinamcphee.net/deep-horizon/


Christina McPhee is a pioneering artist in intermedia art practice, including writing, editing, visual and new media arts. Born in Los Angeles, she studied with Philip Guston at Boston University for the MFA in painting, as well as at Kansas City Art Institute (BFA painting) and Scripps College Claremont. Solo museum exhibitions include American University Museum (Washington DC) 2007 and Bildmuseet (Sweden) 2005. She was a moderator for -empyre- soft-skinned space ( http:subtle.net/empyre) from 2002 to 2009, the online discussion list for digital media arts and culture. She was the participating editor for a series of discussions on modernism, bare life, and education with -empyre- for the Documenta Magazine Project, Documenta 12, 2007. She has written for CTheory, Drunkenboat, Soundtoys, Neural, and Virose.pt. Her video, photographic and new media works create soundspaces and visual landscapes of environmental risk in layers of abstraction, flow and montage. Her videos have shown at FIAC Cinéphémère, Directors Lounge Berlin, and Art Cologne Open Space in 2010; and recently at ISEA Belfast, VIBA Brazil, and Cinema by the Bay ( SFFS San Francisco) in 2009. Her project La Conchita N=Amour is a commission for Thresholds New Media Collection, Perth, Scotland.Her media works are in the collections of the Whitney (Artport), Rhizome at the New Museum (Artbase), New York; Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell; Experimental Television Center and Turbulence, New York. She works in remote technological landscapes in California and, in new work this year, in coastal Louisiana after the Gulf oil spill disaster. She is integrating an extensive drawing practice into media arts with her new projects Teorema and Shed, which will premiere in 2011 at -empty cube- Lisbon and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. http://www.christinamcphee.net











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