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A Reply to Heaven’s Gate was a performance that took place on the 21st of June 2017 as part of The Hive Art Space’s one-night-only exhibition program. I locked the audience outside and rollerskated in circles for 45 minutes whilst playing a toy fiddle: an openly pathetic and hostile gesture that specifically referenced the dance hall scene in Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980), whilst more broadly attempting to undermine the values of endurance, skill and success in creative practice.
There’s much to be said about Heaven’s Gate, but what particularly fascinates me is that it was ultimately ruined by its own scale. Cimino’s rampant perfectionism led to major production issues, driving it disastrously over budget and eventually bankrupting the United Artists studio. Film historians generally agree that it marked the end of Hollywood’s golden age of the auteur, with the magnitude of its failure to blame for the industry’s continuing over-reliance on market-driven blockbusters.
I’m not good at rollerskating or fiddle playing, so my performance was more of a betrayal than a homage to the original scene.
Many thanks to Bonnie & Lance at Hive and to Graham for the documentation.