The Cocoon

The Cocoon: Photo by Lieven Leroy

Photo by Lieven Leroy, Subversive Photography

The Cocoon was a performance and installation project launched at the top of a windy hill at a public location in San Francisco. The mid-air construction of the cocoon mimicked the process observed by moths in nature beginning with a tight, skin-like enclosure that is then wrapped in layers of protective silk or other fibers.

In lieu of a cremaster, an aerial rig was attached to a 30′ eucalyptus tree, and the cocoon constructed from antique lace, aerial silks, and layers of ivory-toned textiles to form a giant chrysalis. A tight, constrictive nesting space was made inside the cocoon where I stayed for a total of 16 hours (broken into two 8 hour day shifts) in a state of suspended isolation.

The Cocoon: Image by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Photo by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Although secret invitations were distributed to the cocoon’s location via a password-protected website (password: cocoon), the majority of visitors (primarily unexpecting tourists, dog walkers, and hikers) stumbled upon the cocoon as a complete and in most cases enjoyable surprise.

The appearance of the cocoon shifted throughout the performance as the wind outside wound and unwound the lengths of textiles forming new constructions almost continuously. A small library of metamorphic texts (including Haruki Murakami’s IQ84 and Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) was positioned outside the cocoon for public access.

Photo by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Inside the cocoon, the atmosphere ranged from one of calm, comfort and nurture to being bitterly cold, claustrophobic and nauseating determined in part by the weather outside and by the changing whims and demands of the physical body. On the first day, a written work was produced and ejected from inside the cocoon on lengths of knotted silks which eventually made their way down to the foliage below where they whipped around in the wind and could be read by those quick enough to catch them.

The second day saw the completion of The Cocoon Book, an all-white artists’ book with decorative thai paper cover finished in white ink on white recycled papers. The text includes instructions for metamorphosis alongside intricate illustrations which have to be held at an angle and in a certain light in order to view.

Though the performance did not near the extreme physical demands required by an actual metamorphosis (in which the caterpillar completely dissolves with exception to its heart and then reassembles over a period of 2 weeks), the experience did succeed in exposing the endurance, patience, and determination necessary on the part of the pupae to face the demands of transition.

The Cocoon: Image by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Photo by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Special thanks to: David Singer, Claire Woods, Luma Jaguar, Olivia Stambor, Crutcher Dunnavant, Charity Pitcher-Cooper, Julia O. Test, Lieven Leroy, Dax Tran-Caffee, Tim Guydish, Neil Girling, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Michelle Hunter, Chris Warfield, Bella Donna, Ivy, Katy Pelton, and Todd Huffman for their assistance.

The Cocoon: Image by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/

Photo by Julia O. Test http://www.juliaotestphotography.com/