"cactus, flower, f%#k-off, love, roses", performance, with MAZI Dance, at SUBTERRANEAN, Chicago, 2013

“Cactus, flowers, fuck-off, love, roses”, explores and celebrates female identity. The piece is a follow-up to "Flower Girl". The title of the project comes from “tags” listed on the website Goodreads, for the quote “Roses may say “I love you,” but the cactus says “Fuck-off”, by J. Kintz. The project presents in 2 parts: a multi-channel video installation, and a live performance where the videos become both backdrop and dance partner.

As with “Flower Girl”, a key component of “cactus, flowers, fuck-off, love, roses” resides with the symbolic connection between flowers and women. The piece includes multiple videos of women (of various ages, body types and ethnicity) who respond to the symbolic meaning of a flower of their choosing. In the videos each participant performs 2 distinct movements: one surrendering to her flower’s motif, and a second passage rejecting its claim. Each woman owns her flower, becomes her, moving with or against her flower’s nature, while at least 1 foot remains immobile, like a stem imbedded in soil. In the live performance the women break free, but they continue to struggle with long imbedded ideologies, their movements raw and personal.

Flowers in the piece were chosen for their floriographic name, based on the Victorian Era practice of communicating through flowers. Flowers have been a symbol for femininity and womanhood since ancient times, but the Victorians created an elaborate code and system for non-verbal communication. The nuances of the language are mostly forgotten, but the implications for women still linger – the perfect woman must still be pure (Lotus) of body, innocent (Daisy) in spirit, and a wildcat (Dahlia) in bed.