Ave Maria Karaoke (2010)
DVD, Colour with sound, Duration 2’38”, Dimensions variable.
Ave Maria Karaoke installation view, Serlachius Museum Gustaf 2022
In Ireland, in the 1980s, Morrissey’s grandmother would listen to religious recordings of the Irish tenor Josef Locke on Sunday mornings after mass. Her face would be transfixed as her mind was transported back to her own youth of the early 20th century. In Ave Maria Karaoke, the artist sings the Ave Maria hymn into an imaginary microphone, in the style of drunken woman emulating a diva performing a torch song. The film was made shortly before she gave birth to her son. She is singing along to a recording of Josef Locke performing the same hymn, though the viewer can only hear Morrissey’s version. The garland of lights is reminiscent of the holy grottos that housed statues of the Virgin Mary of Morrissey’s childhood. Excruciating to watch, the performance is both comic and grotesque. The thin white shirt that barely conceals the enormous bulge and the threat of what is inside bursting forth makes the viewer fearfully aware of the thin boundary between nature and culture. It speaks to our fear of this boundary being crossed and the abject nature of the insides coming outside by this animal like loss of control. The clash between the horror of this potential and the ludicrous nature of the performance blurs the distinction between laughing at and laughing with the subject as the two ideas implode into one.