Mitosis (studio installations)

by on July 12, 2014

Mitosis (Three Stages), 1989 ­– 1990, grew directly out of the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat (1988-89) installations using shaped canvases stapled directly to the walls of my studio, incorporating other objects and original text. In the Mitosis series, I used  the process of cellular division as a metaphor to describe in an ironic, coded way “the process of  individuation”—that is, a wry portrait of growing up in a family steeped in secrets, deceit, and denial. The image of the chromosome and references to mitosis are woven throughout these installations. Original typed or handwritten texts were embedded in found objects and collages:

Mitosis, Stage 2

In the rolodex to the right of the painting of the family at the empty table, the text begins:

“One night it occurred to me that everyone
seated at the table were actually just replicas
of themselves. And that I too was just that.
This mockery was taking place without
the slightest violation of table manners. …”


Mitosis: Stage 3

Imbedded in the collage to the right of the large triangular painting, are two original texts.The first one is typed and highlighted as if under microscope:

“The chromosome is a kind of map of the cell’s invisible geography, a mythical ancestry, the Dreamtime of the Zygote.

If an error occurs during the first mitotic splitting of the zygote—that is, if “an accident of non-dysjunction” occurs while the chromosomes attempt to divide for the first time—then a sexual ambivalence becomes imbedded on the cellular level.
No memory of this leaden moment remains in the mature organism.”

The second text is written by hand below a photo negative of a bird’s-eye view of Manhattan:
“The movement of transvestites and butchers is often visible at the outermost edges of the macrocosm.”


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