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The Function of a Scream


Installation, Performance

University of Tennessee

Space, Surface, People, Time, Various Materials, Performance Instructions


A type of metaphysical silence occurs when one encounters art that resists interpretation, translation.  Metaphysical silence occurs in The Function of a Scream.  The point where one language [visual abstraction of a thought or feeling] cannot be rendered into another [words].  The work begs us to be quiet.  The viewer’s patience is tested.  Rather than regarding this silence as an obstacle, the patient viewer uses it to their advantage.  To discover a portal from the absurdity of their life into possibility.  The void says, ‘there’s more,’ and it’s better if you reside in that hope of not knowing.  A scream does what words cannot do, it expresses the inexpressible, and releases the tension of the unspeakable.  In a scream there is silence, a silence best untouched. 

Part I  -  Material is installed with intense care and physicality, labor.  The visual manifestation of labor exists as a beautiful void, longing to be alone with itself and at the same time calling me in to be with it.  I get overwhelmed by its constant begging call.  I need others. What do we do with this object, this environment?

Part II  - 

Instructions for guests:

Please enter only with your body.

Enter a zone of noble silence.


Feel free to:







The invited  ones  fill the void.  Some violate it, others sit quietly and observe, the maker cries.  It has become something else.   An index of human impact.  

Part III -   One guest is invited back.  We contemplate.  We labor.   We work together to embrace the void.  It is collected and stored.   [with Angelina Parrino]


A scream stands for denying death, the border between life and death, creation and destruction, of artwork and of oneself.

“It is through vision that man attempts to master what he fears and

to objectify what he desires.” - Nancy Spector on Freud

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