2010 began with a sip of Champagne poured from a bottle adorned with purple and pink butterflies, a fitting gift from my boss. 2009 was a year of grandiose change. This archive came to fruition, Meme Gallery made its debut, The Present Tense’s physical headquarters took flight, and on a personal note, my body shape- shifted. As I indulged in my bubbly, I was reminded of one of the most haunting transformations The Present Tense has encountered to date, coincidentally titled “Butterfly”.
In this piece, Jeffrey Byrd, an Iowa-based performance and video artist transforms from Maria Callas to Brittney Spears right before our eyes. He begins with a somber nod to Butoh and moves through a myriad of emotions. By the end, we have experienced Jeffrey’s rendition of Madame Butterfly while watching him expose a deep piece of his imagination that has inspired laughter and a sense of hope. Reminiscing about this piece prompted me to spend some time on Jeffrey’s website. I giggled through Jeff performing household chores dressed as a Stormtrooper and I cheered him on as he attempted to scale walls in a sexy Spiderman suit. My heart melted while watching a video of a Mephisto, a comic book character dancing in his underwear. I fantasized about what it would be like if I made an effort to retain my own creativity at work by tap dancing on my desk like Jeff did in “Tap Desk”. In this exploration, I noticed Jeff had chosen to include a quote from Sebastian Horsley on his site. “We are what we pretend to be”. If only we all could follow Jeff’s lead and spend more time pretending, the powers of our imaginations could truly and genuinely be realized.