Written by Sibyl O’Malley
Directed by Aiste Ptakauske
“Bull” was a part of international performance exchange project Exchange Rate 2008 for which U.S. artists and non-U.S. artists exchanged performance scores. The whole project was initiated by LA based artist Elana Mann to encourage the global artists’ community to react to and reflect on the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign.
“Bull” was screened in LA on November 4, 2008. After the screening Editor of the contemporary art e-journal “…might be good” Claire Ruud wrote:
Aiste Ptakauske’s video interpretation of Sibyl O’Malley’s Bull: An Episode offers another poignant engagement with spectacle, visibility and invisibility, one that addresses issues of race, gender, and sexuality that circled through the 2008 campaigns. O’Malley’s directions consist simply of a cast of characters and a campy script centering around a coliseum where bulls fight drag queens. (If a bull is the ultimate symbol of virile heterosexual masculinity, a drag queen seems the superlative threat.) Scenes at the coliseum are interspersed with scenes following a faceless Mrs. O (bama), as it becomes increasingly apparent that she will be the bull’s next opponent. Ptakauske’s video pares down the script’s dialogue in order to spend more time following a disoriented Mrs. O wandering through a mostly deserted city. In the first scene, the faceless Mrs. O walks down an alley full of wheat-pasted posters bearing her husband’s face. Looking at the reflection in a window, she discovers her own face is missing. Frantic, she runs back down the alley, where she finds fliers bearing images of herself scattered in the street. Gathering them up, she clutches these images to her breast. The scene mourns the invisibility of a black woman—in this case Michele Obama—in the political arena. As with other contributions to Exchange Rate: 2008, O’Malley and Ptakauske’s Bull revolves around a spectacle—a bull fight—but its protagonist remains invisible—faceless.