Do You Have Any Money? Brianna Rigg and Spring Adamo as Dixie Belle Royal at Bijou Gallery at the South Bay Salt Works
Angella d’Avignon - April 2016
Off a main road, in a parking lot across the street from an old salt factory in San Diego, there’s a purse slumped on the ground. Tucked into it is Bijou Gallery, a roving white cube space, that sets up in different public nooks of San Diego, designed to make us “think about space in space”. For Brianna Rigg and Spring Adamo’s performance, the gallery structure has been shoved into the oversized leather purse and filled with all the things a grandma’s bag ought to have and more: peppermint candies, Folgers coffee packets, baby powder, extra bra straps, sewing kits, and cash.
The surrounding land is flat, encrusted with salt; two white mountainous piles loom next to the old metal mill, the clean slopes creating the perfect surface to reflect bright light. Walking up to the performance site, the scene resembles a Wim Wenders film still: the sky is blindingly blue, two women wander: one in all pink, the other in all red who calls out to each new guest. “Is that my Butchy?”
Both women, sisters in real life, are dressed and perform as their departed grandmother, Dixie Belle Royal. The simulacra is complete in its kitsch: each woman stays in character the entire time, they never interact but constantly behave and speak as Dixie, like two ghosts roaming over the asphalt.
“Do you need some money, honey?” Adamo asks, wearing a satin red pant suit, hemmed with a stray bobby pin at her ankle and fastened with a safety pin at the waist. “I always keep some in my bra you know. That way if you need to ditch your date, you have money for the cab.” She pulls a dollar bill from her bright blue bra, her lipstick slightly smeared in an endearing way. She points to her purse - the gallery - on the ground nearby.
Rigg, in polyester pink, bobbed silver white wig shining in the mid-afternoon sun bends over to reach into the gallery-purse. “Come here honey,” she says to no one in particular, “Did I give you something yet?” She pulls out a plastic baggy with nail clippers and a felt heart with a sewing needle and tucks it into my hand. Dixie, through her two granddaughters, tells us about her son Butchy’s house and family out in Oregon, about baby shows (beauty pageants), and about her love for Kenny Rogers. The interaction and exchange bet
The expanse and emptiness of the location allows for a feeling of timelessness. The site at the Salt Works, although public, is tucked away and obscure enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief, as though the performance were a seance. Dixie is here, represented in her two granddaughters while the rest of us stand in the salt-dirt, drinking red wine from a box and cans of Modelos with the blue sky around us and the grandmas done up in red and pink. Dixie leans in close and grabs my arm the way she’s been grabbing our arms all afternoon, “Don’t tell the other girls, but you’re my favorite.” She says it like she means it and I believe her.