Deirdre Logue

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When I Need To Be Somebody Else

by Deirdre Logue


A woman with a mouth like a catfish is showing me her whiskers. They work like snake tongues, emerging and retracting from tiny holes at the sides of her mouth. When visible, they move as if sending or smelling. They are incredibly articulate and delicate. They also seem to present a danger, as if able to transmit a poison. I can tell right away, she is not who she appears to be. These whiskers are part of her but also a deliberate disguise. I am hypnotized by the movement of her tiny tongues. I cannot move. I am both terrified and amazed.


As the body is broken down into its transmittable lines per inch, it can then be reconstructed into other forms of transmission. This breaking apart takes no prisoners.

Names for Strangers

I have always been in love with performance art. Even as a child I can recall being fascinated with the potential my mind and body had for both eliciting and sustaining a performative tone. Changing my name for strangers was just the beginning of what would fast become a lust for an increasingly fluid sense of self. Scolded on a regular basis for lying about who I was, I began to realize that this desire was never purely intuitive but rather a strategy for surviving a serious case of ambiguity. As well as being myself I was also names, genders and identities I made up: Michael, DJ, Corey, Maggie, Paul, Sara, Kevin and Gary. I was all six of the Brady Bunch siblings (though I never identified with the kid added in later episodes); five out of Eight is Enough; Jodi from Family Affair (unlike the actual character, however, I knew Kung Fu); Sabrina from Bewitched and the star of Gilligan's dysfunctional, coconut isle. I refused to answer to my given name enough that I forced my mother and father to call after their daughter Kevin in the school yard parking lot. My patient parents eventually drew the line after one full week of watching their eldest child eat out of a dog bowl in the corner of the kitchen under the guise of Pal, the identity of a long dead family pet.


Screaming into an ordinary kitchen spoon. The mouth opens to emit the sounds of Godzilla and of a million tiny screamers. In this minimalist moment, the distortion of the self that a scream elicits is acutely felt.


The first time I lit something on fire, it was my self. Running through a dry field to try and beat the blaze that had once been my legs, I was soon surrounded in flames. Only the warmth, the rock ship adrenaline, moving through space and the sounds my feet made hitting the ground were comprehensible. I was moving, fast, like a cheetah, my favourite animal at the time. We were one, my cheetah and me, orange, yellow and black, crossing the plains, the hunted escaping the hunter.

A Considered Self

Early shape-shifting prepared me well for adolescence and I survived as many of us do by developing new identities over and over again, depending on who was asking. Once past the threshold of my sixteenth birthday, I felt I was entering a new era of self. A directed, considered, adult self who knew what she/he wanted and who she/he wanted to do that with. And although this was true to an extent, I have never lost my fascination with performing my body and mind into several selves. I am who I need to be, when I need to be somebody else. I am in a constant state of becoming, a sign of the future of who I may become. I am not singular.


I am a transformer toy, the blue one that is a motorcycle that turns into a Power Ranger character. I am in the middle of the transformation process when I hear my mother crying out for help. I must get to her or she will surely perish. In a panic I rush the assembly and put myself together in all the wrong ways. My head is in the right place but I am quickly becoming a jumbled mess of man and machine. As my mother's cries intensify, parts are everywhere and I accidentally break off one of my arms. In its place grows a spoon. I can see my reflection, and as if seeing myself for the first time, I begin to weep.

Untitled Combustion

As we watch the blue flame ignite the performer, we hold our breath. Not just from anticipation, but so as not to blow it out. Her crown catches fire and it quickly starts to burn. Onlookers cast out their lines towards her hoping to catch a spark, to participate in her chemical transformation, her bright shifting body of gas, her mixing with oxygen in the air.

(Originally published in Promise, a catalogue for a show of performance-based video and film dedicate to different states of becoming, curated by Deirdre Logue. Published by YYZ Artists' Outlet, Sept. 1999)