Jonathan Durham
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© 2011

Tail On The Head
Performed at Recess-Kidd/Yellin, NY - September 24, 2011, 7pm.
The University of Virginia Ruffin Hall Gallery. September 30, 2011, Noon.

Do the faithful hold onto their beliefs or are they held by their beliefs? Tail on the Head is a performance/lecture that references historical and contemporary instances of extreme American faith, ranging from one of the 19th century's most prolific hymnists - the blind poetess Fanny Crosby, to the modern day Appalachian practitioners of the Pentecostal serpent handling tradition, to the gunman Jim D. Adkisson who killed members of his own Unitarian Church during a childrens production of Little Orphan Annie. Throughout the performance Durham spouts bad jokes and asks questions directed at the audience while holding a live snake. Musical accompaniment was provided by guitarist Jamey Hamm who plays blindfolded - wearing glasses covered in black plastic and dried figs. Archival serpent handling footage was projected over wall mounted PVC sculptures during the lecture.

Performers: Jamey Hamm - Blind Guitarist/Fanny Crosby
Jonathan Durham - Jim/F_Annie

Script excerpt:

1. Music Starts - Jamey (Fannie) is tuning guitar

* He is tuning the guitar while on his back sliding across gallery floor.

2. Introductions: While holding survey cross -

* “Thank You everyone for coming tonight. Before we start our main topic of discussion I would like to make several introductions.”

* "This is Jim, I am Jim, and He is Jim" - line up Survey Cross for each.

"More specifically and to the point - This is Jim Fanny, I am Jim Annie, and He is Jim Jimminey Gee Whiskers Holy Beelzebub what kind of snake is that!"

3. Blinding of Jim Fannie (Jamey). Cut open the figs in his eyes
- cut cigar with cigar cutter
“Jim Fannie was blinded by an incompetent doctor at a very young age. And once Fannie was blinded, it really gave the music A BIG BOOST! “

* Cut open Figs in in Jamey’s eyes. At this point Jamey starts playing a riff on guitar.

4. “So Um - What is the Topic of discussion?”
- "Ah yes, it's Jim. Jim is a dangerous man and sometimes I talk to Jim and ask him questions about why he handles serpents. Jim, Why do you handle serpents?"
- no answer - maybe from the crowd?

5. "Well here’s a question Jim." (touch Jamey on the shoulder to stop playing)
Question: “ What did the serpent think to itself while it was waiting in line for ice cream?
Answer: Thisss is exactly what I desssserve.

Jim's Tail on The Head
lecture/performance
Jim's Tail On The Head: performance
Univesitiy of Virginia - Sept. 2011
Jim's Tail On The Head
F_Annie Crosby (UVA - Sept. 2011)
Jim's Tail On The Head
University of Virginia- Sept. 2011
Jim's Tail On The Head
Jim's Tail on the Head: performance
nailgun in guitar case
Jim's Tail On The Head
jim and nailgun