Thirst, and the Martyr

Thirst, and the Martyr was performed during the (e)merge Art Fair (Washington, D.C.; 2011). The piece is a polar struggle between two characters tethered together and unwilling to compromise.

A 7-hour endurance performance, Thirst, and the Martyr responds to resource equity issues. The artist says of the project

The Martyr is at once a hoarder and a provider.

She may be viewed as opposing sides of the same character, at war with each other. Or, she is two individuals at odds, refusing compromise and unable to work together.

By examining actions of self-service, self-sacrifice, and self-centeredness, Thirst, and the Martyr questions the availability and distribution of resources critical to our survival on this planet.

Hope is challenged but never fully extinguished as the struggle continues.


Two blindfolded women laden with hundreds of ceramic bowls and gourds full of water are tethered together back-to-back. Each attempts to reach a trough ahead of her to scoop water using the long ladles affixed to her arms. When she prevails over the will of her counterpart, water spills as she raises a ladle to drink.


Platform (24’ long x 8’ wide x 30” tall) built of lumber and topped with dead turf, with (2) 8’ long welded steel troughs of water; Two women, with layers of clay and corn syrup applied to skin and fitted suits, harnesses with hand-stitched leather and grommets, handmade pottery and hand-cut and sanded gourds on jute and leather cord, ladles made of hand-forged steel with leatherwork; One musician, with washtub bass made of various findings


Character One: J.J. McCracken

Character Two: Sy.Newt McCracken

Soundscape (washtub bass): Marc Blackwood

Crew: Elle Brande, Sean Lundgren, Caitlin Deane, Shelsea Dodd

Photography: Margaret Boozer and Olya Turcihin

Photo editing: J.J. McCracken, with Frank Hallam Day

Video & editing: Marc Blackwood and J.J. McCracken

CLICK Video in the left nav bar for sample

Thirst, and the Martyr was written, directed, and performed by J.J. McCracken; funded by an award from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation; support and fabrication provided by Red Dirt Studio, Mt. Rainier, MD. Special thanks to Margaret Boozer.

Bibliography Section Article Bibliography Section Catalog Bibliography Section Web Link PDF icon displayed by thumbnail Sold Dot