A very short in-progress reading, nee performance of a rough draft of a developing work by Patrick Costello. With critical and directorial support from Alison Kizu-Blair
Rubens' Peel takes its initial inspiration from an 1801 painting by Rembrandt Peale, Rubens Peale with a Geranium. The portrait depicts Rubens Peale (Rembrandt’s botanist/artist brother) posed next to a prized specimen -- what may be the first Pelargonium inquinans grown in the US. The painting’s unique composition sets it apart from other portraits of the time. Still, the piece sits comfortably in the canon as yet another oil painting of a wealthy white man, painted by a wealthy white man.
I’m interested in the historical details of the painting, especially Rubens’ role as a botanist, and botany’s relationship to early capitalism and colonialism. But I'm also reveling in personal, invented narratives about my relationship to Rubens. We resemble each other somewhat, and share many interests, after all. How might being related to this man shift or complicate my current study of botany and urban ecology? How might my queerness change a conversation about our masculinities? And how might we come to terms with our shared relationship to a culture of White Supremacy in the US?
For this early iteration, Judy Garland makes an appearance, accompanied by, among other things, a cornucopia of glasses frames, piles of tropical fruits, geranium oil, and a life-life sized puppet of Rubens himself.