By Jessica Karuhanga
On a Saturday afternoon I arrive in a corridor shaped like a waiting room for a spa or treatment centre. An assistant greets me at a desk and asks if I am here to see Adrian Stimson. I am immediately implicated in the performance and wilfully assume my role of the guest or patient. The assistant passes me a clipboard with a stack of waivers. I fill a form. This process feels silly. A more accurate articulation of this process would reveal that my investment in this specific task is carefree in its materialization. I am rushing in my desire to arrive at the next point. My signature is consent to my photograph being taken and incorporated into the work. How it is to be incorporated is yet to be revealed. I am barely concerned how my image is being used. I am a stereotypical Aries where impulsivity and patience are concerned. In truth I felt an urgency to be present inside the doctor’s office and the space of the art. A door swings open and leaning against the frame Dr. Stimson emerges. His smile is charming and contagious. He exclaims, “You here to see me? Come right this way.” I follow and the door to the space closes behind us.
I am immediately drawn to a wooden bunk bed covered by white drapes in the centre of the room. Stimson invites me to put down my bags and cuts to the chase. He asks me to get into the bottom bunk. He wants me to draw a white sheet over myself to reveal only my head. All traces of clothing must be concealed. I oblige and Stimson proceeds to climb on to the top bunk and inching towards the camera to diffuse the awkwardness he gently breaks ice, “Hope you don’t mind me being on top.” I laugh and he is smiling. He then tells me as he adjusts the camera that he wants me to think of the best orgasm I have ever had. I know exactly the orgasm I will conjure from my memory. I embrace the awkwardness. Stimson quickly follows this request with yet another. He now wants me to think about Canada and one-hundred and fifty years of confederacy and occupation. I am confounded as I lay beneath Stimson swaddled in white sheets. As I begin to process this turn he says, “Now make your best orgasm face!” The camera clicks. He asks, “Did you think of England?” This colloquial and subversive expression is familiar and fitting in its re-contextualization of the here and now. How can one not think of this mass in this two-fold request? The casual delivery of the phrase often suggests a reconfiguring of a memory, site or place. It encourages a gesture of flight, leaving your body, and forgetting while enduring.
I emerge from the bed and Stimson leads me to a corner of the room. Two sheets of paper are pressed against the wall where he is keeping a tally in red marker. He adds a line for my contribution. Beside us stands a podium holding bowls of candy shaped like vulva, breasts, and phalluses. He says I may take one. I choose a chocolate breast. Adjacent to this podium is a projection feed of previously taken photos. I observe several of the orgasm faces knowing I will not be in the space long enough to witness mine emerge. A trace of the mess of my confusion and mirroring pleasure. Their images are flanked by blocks of red to form a Canadian flag. Stimson tells me our expressions will be projected onto his face. Later his face is awash in white and he stands before the projection cycling through our drifting and contemplation.