Wit’s End, an installation by Christina Reihill, explored the nature, questions and desires of soul, through the life, work and death of the celebrated American writer Dorothy Parker.
In a resurrection of the 1920’s poet, famed for as much for her suicide attempts, abortions and thwarted desires, as for her dark, pithy verse, short stories and journalism, through words, images and objects, the artist re-imagined an internal narrative for Parker, to provide a context for the unthought known in the human experience.
The artist relied on her subject’s eternal appeal, word craftsmanship, astute perception and heroic defiance to articulate a journey for fulfilled desire and through this, identified a universal
understanding of life negated, life unlived.
In this work, Parker rose from her ashes (a jar of her cremated remains were left abandoned after her lonely death in 1967 in a filing cabinet for 20 years) to meet herself squarely and address the demons that thwarted her desire to write a novel and win recognition as a serious artist.
“The professional conversationalists, nearly divorced” were Parker’s targets of those she considered led unlived lives. The artist employed her own poetry to articulate the wordless, silent nature of pricked conscience and transmute Parker’s sulphurous wit, lethal one-liners and ghoulish observations into gritty, less opaque verse, to reveal the flame that lit this tragic figure’s satiric smile.
The installation envisioned Dorothy Parker taking an internal journey to fulfill her heart’s desire to write the novel she started but never completed, Sonnets In Suicide, to stand alongside her great
literary contemporaries, including her hero Ernest Hemingway.