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© 2019 by Hilary Pfeifer. 

'sWarm

Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, 2006

 

Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR, 2007 

Every year the Lovebugs swarm. It’s their mating process–traveling in a giant mass of writhing pheromones. In recent decades, as their native habitat in the forests has been depleted, the Lovebugs have migrated toward the roadways to act out their seasonal ritual. They are drawn to the scent of automobile exhaust fumes, which chemically replicates the odor produced by the female insect to attract their male counterparts and alert them of their fertility. Quite often, individuals in a swarm are randomly looping, spiraling, or corkscrewing around in a dizzying search for their mates, rather than following a linear flightplan.

People swarm too. In bars, parks, highways, gyms, malls. We often gather together and watch each other, observing our mating rites which include clothing, gesture, demeanor. We flirt, looking into each other’s eyes for the kinesthetic cues that it’s okay to do so. And for the cues that we should keep on going. Or the cues that it’s time to stop. We use electronic aids as well–cell phones, the internet, text messages–all of which often bring our swarming and mating routines further into the public domain.

Language is a big part of courtship, and it is from this place that I chose the title for this installation. When George Gershwin wrote ’s Wonderful, he was taking note of the way that humans often elide the spoken word, letting some parts drop away and others merge. When we are speaking affectionately to lovers, our language is softer and more melodic than usual. Words loop from thought to thought, much like the lofty flight pattern of a giddy bug.

Images include the Fuller museum's Logan Airport kiosk, which used a portion of the Lovebugs from the 2006 show and several displays of lovebugs in a private homes.

Work from this installation is still available.