I ME WED is a conceptual video installation conceived of by myself and my parter, Sadia Mir.
On June 14th and 15th, several women got married in a beautiful ceremony officiated by the lovely Pam McNair (an ordained minister) at the Rogers Communication Centre in Toronto. These amazing ladies were the brave first few to participate in our video piece in which women get married to themselves.
We posted our casting call throughout various outlets: Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook, Toronto Woman’s Bookstore, EYE, NOW and hassled all of our single, fierce female friends.
Single (although we relaxed that rule)
Over the age of 27.4 years
Vows were to be no longer than 2 minutes.
Guests were allowed
The responses that followed were surprising….
“I’m not quite ready to do it yet…but since you’ve asked me, it’s all I’ve been thinking about. You’ve certainly unleashed something…”
“I don’t love myself enough yet to get married to myself.”
“I’ve been single for so long that I don’t want to jinx it.”
“I should marry myself because god knows it’s IMPOSSIBLE to find a guy that’s somewhat cool, somewhat mature, somewhat attractive that is interested in to settling down before 40?! You know what I’m sayin’ girlfriend! muah.”
“Haahah, no way am I getting married, even if it’s to myself! That just gives more ideas for my mom to keep nagging.”
And then there were five brave ladies and one nervous wedding planner (me) who wanted to re-affirm their vows to themselves.
Here were my vows:
“I am the one. There will be others who come into my life, but I am the one.
The one that I depend on to make myself a better person.
The one that I trust when I can’t trust anyone else.
The one who gives me the inner strength to keep asking the tough questions, to continue to reach and push myself further.
The one who gives me the joy to keep looking at life with fresh eyes, with honesty, and with truth.
I am the one that I commit to…from this day forward, I love myself in every way. And, to that inner spirit
that keeps me going, I say….
It’s taken a lot of work to arrive at this point and it’ll take a lot more work to see me through. But I wouldn’t
want to do it with anyone else. I love you, I respect you and I honor you.”
Overall, the wedding ceremonies went off without a hitch. We toasted with champagne, cupcakes and flowers. It was a fantastic weekend and I hope we made each bride feel loved, accepted and beautiful.
The day of our critique however was another story. Setting up the max patch, getting the projectors to work…organizing the flow of the space…it all came together quite well…but only after 36 hours of non stop trouble shooting. Of course we battled forward and eventually had a fantastic presentation. One bride…two images. Profile right, the bride said her vows. Profile left, the bride listened…to herself. And her image cycled to the next bride who said her vows…in an evolving story where each participant acted as bride and witness. Seeing a women address herself in profile… it was a beautiful moment…powerful, empowering, engaging. It ruled.
In retrospect, here is what worked, what didn’t and a few comments that made Sadia and I think about the project’s intentions.
We intended right from the start to have each bride say her vows to herself and then be cycled into the next loop, listening to the next bride’s vows, acting as witness. Some guests at the wedding (the installation portion) felt that it was confusing seeing one woman say her vows to another, implying that they were getting married to each other and not to themselves. I can see how this might happen, especially if someone walks into the middle of a ceremony and sees two different women staring at each other with one reciting her vows. But, if you stay for several minutes, chances are even in a random cycle of the MAX MSP patch ( a software program that allows you to upload media for installation and projections. Our teacher helped build it and designed it as such so that we could control the media in either a linear pattern or let it randomly cycle through each piece of media) you will eventually see the same bride getting married to herself…and that’s the main intention of the project. Sadia and I are quite happy to leave it be…we want to create an evolving community of solo brides. And previously married brides acting as witness to new brides does the trick.
Another question that was asked was about our parameters…if after marrying herself, a bride decides to get married to a partner in the future…does she have to divorce herself? Hmmmmm…I’m still pondering that one. It’s a darn good question.
And yes…it’s definitely marriage…not a commitment ceremony…not a re-affirmation ceremony but a wedding. Marriage is such a loaded word…and that’s why we choose it. We almost had a runaway bride, the pressure was so intense. What’s incredible is that we put this out into the world as a light piece (taking it completely seriously, of course but fully intending to have multiple Sex in the City moments of frivolity, haute couture, high heels and cupcakes) but what came back to us was a level of seriousness not quite anticipated. Single women may not stay single forever but darn, we have some pretty powerful reasons for being lone rangers and it was nice to have a day to honor that commitment…to oneself.
Our goal is to apply for events like Nuit Blanche or Luminato in 2009. And when we get some grant money we’d like to construct a Vegas inspired chapel where women, after seeing the installation, can choose to get married right then and there and then be cycled into the video stream and thus, become one of many in the legion of solo brides. We’d also like a reception area where brides, friends and family can come to celebrate in an official and formal fashion (plus we just like the idea of a giant party).
We also intend to start an I ME WED website and blog where we can continue to attract future brides, post video, pictures and comments on each wedding ceremony, link to any news/media about our project or sistering projects and engage in discussion about the nature of marriage or perhaps to post our wedding gift registry!
We fully intend to keep I ME WED ceremonies going throughout the summer…there’s a need for this type of self expression. Sadia and I provide the environment, equipment and parameters (and the cupcakes) and each wonderful woman brings to it what she will.
Thanks again to all of the amazing women who came out and helped make our project such a success: Zoe, Eni, Andalee, Liz, and Natalia.