Interior Sloth

His first show was the live mutilation and desecration of a dead fish. Contact microphones inserted into gill slits, the diamond sheen like tin foil jelly. He mashed mics into guts, into black eyes, minced meat until his own screams of splendor matched the applause of the Chinese audience.

He released a seven inch record. Instead of artwork printed by traditional means, he used strands of black woven hair, glued in thick clumps by an unknown grey substance. The record is “Formaldehyde Drip, Charred: for Manami.” The limited run record, all fifty copies, sold quickly to his European fans. He still lives in town, has a few private copies not for sale. I’ve heard it. He shared.

For the second performance, he dumped a bucket of leeches into a sliced open severed arm. It was not his own arm, but a larger arm, muscular and pink, veins highlighted by black marker. Steel strings had been attached to the leeches, strings that, with every movement and slurp of leech to flesh, produced a different tone. The strings were routed to a box of effects pedals, distortion and delay, fed into a small mixer and manipulated by hand to the delight of the audience. Someone lit one of the club’s sofas on fire, the crowd let it burn.

We sat in his studio and listened to his newest piece, “The Broken Anatomy of  Man’s Interior Sloth.” He turned off the lights, passed me a lit cigarette. We smoked in silence.

The piece begins with what sounds like a chair being scraped over wood complimented by a muffled moan (female, I presume). Then, an abrupt crack of skin or leather striking flesh. He keeps a black rod by the stereo, woven horse hair. The crack is followed by a series of tape loops, pitch-shifted growls like groaning wolves underwater. The cracks escalate. I can feel him smile through the black. A voice, his own, is chanting through a low-pass filter, but not in his native language. The growls, the cracks, and the chant pan to the left. A wall of static, more brown than pink, and certainly not white, fills the right speaker. The two sides rise, meet in the middle of the room. He moves, cigarette in mouth, and asks me to stand in the center of the room, says the album demands willing participation. My help would be invaluable.

His third show was a private venue. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance. His assistants, three foreign women in black gowns, stood hidden and unmoving behind strung up carcasses, affixed to the ceiling by meat hooks, blood dripping into wooden buckets. A shrill tone, the smell of vinegar. There were waterproof microphones inside the buckets. The drips were amplified, fed into a sampler, where he proceeded to edit the drips in real time, chopping them up, delay, filter, layer, and loop. With the snap of his fingers, the women raised right hands, brandished cleavers, and tore into the meat, jab upon jab, the sound of ripping flesh. No one noticed the wireless microphones glued to the women’s teeth. Every chop, a distorted and breathy grunt. The spattered blood dried on the floor, some on my shirt. The wooden buckets were in the studio, near the black rod.

I stood in the center of the room. He told me to wait, came back with a plank of wood, sharpened at the tip. A stake. The scraping and chanting, moans melded into shrieks. The static, deep like cars crashing in slow majesty.

The snapping sharpness of the plank slamming into my stomach, the noise felt from inside, and his fists to my teeth, the pliers and the glass shards he used to poke holes in my thighs to make fountains of red. I was leaking. Liquid in my ear and his boot stepping down cracking finger bones—each crack a compliment of aural perfection. “The plank, “he said, “when inserted into the prostrate, bursts the sac, an exploding squish, shattering any preconceptions of the real meaning of intimacy.” It will not be recorded.

Blood gushed from my ears in that moment of contact, the startling revelation of pure artistic genius.

By Jamie Grefe

Jamie Grefe currently lives and works in Beijing, China. His work appears or is forthcoming in Emprise Review, Bartleby Snopes, Untoward Magazine, Mud Luscious Press and elsewhere. Please, give him black coffee or read more at: http://shreddedmaps.tumblr.com

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