Christina Peek’s, ‘Since the Invention of the Kiss’ explores iconic romantic narratives in film and how these tales narratives influence our own expectations and behavior regarding romantic love. Through these works, she presents us with replica film sets which highlight the ‘special’ cues and devices used to provide us with the perfect conditions for a romantic kiss to occur; dusk, candlelit dinner, being on or around water. By re-creating these conditions in a gallery setting, Peek draws attention to the fallacy of these iconic movie moments. The unrealistic scenarios that are presented to us, ‘we aren’t in little Italy or on the ocean, maybe the actors weren’t either.’[i]
Peek invites us to interact with the works. By doing so, she points out the disjunct between lived romantic experience and cultural narrative.[ii] This chance to put oneself in the scene immediately exposes to us the reality that these moments were not built for one person. One cannot kiss alone. These works can be seen as physical manifestations of Peek’s own views on her relationship status. The intended conditions of self-consciousness and incompleteness she has produced, highlights the exclusion of the single in these narratives. These conditions reflect on the way we, as a society, may shape our values and expectations regarding romantic love from the iconic narratives in film. As a result of being guided by these romantic ideals, we are pressured to accept the idea that singledom is frowned upon, further more we may even come to accept the position of romantic love as being the answer to resolving and satisfying any of our own personal insecurities, loneliness or misunderstandings.
Peek’s works are produced operate in a way which come from the paradoxical position of being both a fan of these iconic narratives and also through her critique on the influence of the romantic ideals that are presented to us. The choice of sets come from Peek’s own connections and love for the films, however, the cues and devices taken from these iconic movie moments are part of a broader language which we rely upon to tell us what a romantic moment should be. Perhaps it is possible that after the credits have rolled out and the DVD menu is looping indefinitely, that the reality of romantic gestures occur through sincere notes left on the fridge or kisses through the car window regardless if it is raining or the perfect time of day?
[i] Christina Peek. Artists notes 2017.
[ii] Christina Peek. Artists notes 2017