Ever been told by somebody that they’re a unicorn? Maybe at a bush-doof while they, and you, are getting brain mutations on some a-grade-hells-angels-made psychotropic substance in the midst of a deep discussion about ethical, responsible living. If you’re into that kind of thing. But in the supermarket on a Tuesday?
Carly Fern could be the love child of Gabi Barton and Carla Yamine’s grotesque burlesque duo THE TOWN BIKES, traipsing between seemingly optimistic candycane cuteness and deeply demented demonic horror. She is a performance artist without disciplinary limits, living the performance as the life she performs. There is little distinction between disturbing psychological episodes and supposed “normal behaviour”, pushing herself and the audience into uncomfortably familiar places we would rather not traverse. The edges of our minds. It’s as if when she is uncomfortable, we are comfortable, and when she is comfortable, we are uncomfortable. Does that make her a clown?
Carly Fern is a self proclaimed Humi-corn. I don’t know what that is exactly and I’m not sure I’ll ever know. However, after a sleepless 48 hours of travel Carly Fern wrote me back from a bong-den somewhere in Vancouver…
CARLY. YOU ARE PART UNICORN. WHAT HAPPENED?
Anto. Many things happened in quick succession. It was a bloody and confusing mess; a completely profound and mystical experience.
WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
It is always happening and has always been happening. It is a constant, boundless energy that transcends time and is driven by love. A dance, a song, a gesture, a rhythm, a feeling.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE ON STAGE IN PUBLIC AS AN ADULT?
Life is a public stage. Adult is a terminal illness.
ADULT IS A TERMINAL ILLNESS. YES. NAIVETY AND IMAGINATION ARE BRED OUT OF US. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME OF THE BEST WAYS TO AVOID THIS DILAPIDATION OF FREE IMAGINATION?
Imagination is a good friend. Treat it well. Make sure you exercise it and feed it 3 round meals a day. Pamper it sometimes. Leave it alone other times. Let it live on it’s own terms. Don’t question it. Don’t shame it. Don’t belittle it. Give it space and believe in it. Keep communication lines open with nature, time-travel or adventure.
YOUR PERFORMANCES AND CREATIVITY ARE PRETTY BENT. WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
My dad is a Joker and my Mum is an Angel. They both have a wicked sense of humour but maintain that they did not create me. I thank unicorns, misogyny, and my insatiable lust for life.
HOW DOES MISOGYNY INSPIRE YOU?
Well, it’s complete shit, so naturally I want to push it out (‘self expression’) This statement implicates me also. I wonder if we need a collective enema….
IS MISOGYNY IMPORTANT IN THE WORLD? OR IS IT KIND OF LIKE HARD RIGHT-WING POLITICS, WHERE IT IS USEFUL AS A MEANS FOR SOMETHING TO RALLY AGAINST?
if we used it properly, maybe it could become a great fertilizer.
YOU NEVER SHY FROM EXPOSING YOUR VULNERABILITIES- PHYSICALLY, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, EMOTIONALLY. IS THERE A WAY TO EXPLAIN THE EMOTIONS YOU GO THROUGH JUST BEFORE YOU BEGIN A PERFORMANCE?
I am actually very shy- just a very good performer. Usually I use the pre-emotions as fuel. The act of ‘going through’ the emotions happens during the performance, or could be explained as the performance itself if you think of self-expression as an explicit act.
WHAT ABOUT DURING A PERFORMANCE? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THAT SPACE-TIME-PLACE?
Ideally, I die and am reborn. I become everything and everything becomes me. Pure ecstasy.
THIS KIND OF SUSPENSION OF TIME AND SPACE CAN BE THERAPEUTIC AND A NECESSARY OUTLET FOR ARTISTS. IT HAS BEEN DISCUSSED A LOT BY ACADEMICS AND I THINK IS COMPARABLE TO MEDITATION. WOULD YOU SAY THAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Yes. It is something outside the institution though. Not constrained by semantics or borrowed language. It is blissful chaos. Transmission. It is essential to life and it is essentially life itself.
AND THEN YOU COME OUT OF IT. YOU GET OFF STAGE. THE CROWD APPLAUDS AND SPEWS GRATITUDE ALL OVER YOU. HOW DOES THAT PART FEEL?
If I’ve done it right, the aftermath is a sea of celebration and I delight in the good, the grateful & the projectile.
SO YOU DON’T FEEL EXHAUSTED?
I used to…but I have learned that I need to temper my energy so I have some left over to field questions and be open to connections. I like to know that the magic has worked and that only comes from engaging with the aftermath. Like eating the placenta.
LASTLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR PARENTS IF THEY WERE YOUR CHILDREN?
Our parents will one day become our children.
Fern is currently travelling the world creating spontaneous art projects. Keep an eye on her WEBSITE and here she is below offering some therapy to us all…
Photo Credits: Geraldine Quinn, Rebecca Metamorphagraph.