A drone (Jim Self) and worker bee (Teri Weksler) engage in slapstick domestic comedy with sharp dance movements corresponding to the hexagonal shapes of the hive. This “bee TV” was based on fairytales and sitcoms including The Honeymooners and Bewitched. Moore and Self play with perspective and angles, never allowing the viewer to feel completely grounded in this highly saturated, post-apocalyptic world where humans and bees have merged.
The exhibition’s title, Beauty & Bite, comes from Frank Moore’s New York Times obituary, which describes the artist as bringing “beauty and bite to themes of scientific progress, environmental pollution and the medical establishment.” Moore was deeply engaged with environmental issues while working on Beehive, and the subtext of a post-apocalyptic world is not difficult to uncover. But the joyful, experimental mood of the drawings and film reflects a moment just before Moore and his partner, Robert Fulps, tested positive for HIV around 1987.
From the exhibition: Beauty and Bite (July 20, 2019 – January 19, 2020)
Frank Moore, a visual artist and designer, and Jim Self, a dancer and choreographer, collaborated on Beehive throughout the 1980s. Moore grew up with bees and developed an extensive understanding of their behaviors. Inspired by the way bees dance to communicate, he and Self created this film and a stage ballet of the same name, each set inside a psychedelic, pollen-packed beehive.
The film begins with a worker bee returning to the hive after collecting pollen from flowers. Pollen, which fertilizes plants, is the life force that drives our ecosystem forward. Because bees harvest pollen for consumption, they play an essential role in pollination and thus facilitate plant reproduction. Without bees, every other species would eventually die off; they are crucial to the health and vitality of the global ecosystem.
The Beehive story culminates in a peculiar and salacious mating scene between a drone bee (Self) and the queen. Throughout, Moore and Self are playing with sexuality and interspecies relationships between bees, plants, and humans in such a way that brings to mind the ecosexual notion of the earth as lover.
–Caroline Coxe ’20
From the exhibition: Lover EarthArt and Ecosexuality (May 30 – August 23, 2020)