JD Reforma’s ‘I want to believe’ has recently been acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
‘I want to believe’ is a work about faith and hope that creates a direct, physical relationship between the domestic and the cosmic.
It consists of a filmed performance that took place on the rooftop of the artist’s apartment building in inner-city Sydney amidst the 2020 lockdown, in which he uses his body and the accumulated rooftop grime to write and re-write the phrase ‘I want to believe, I want to leave’. Developing this performance, the artist had been reflecting about people confined with abusers, reflecting on his last relationship and how he might have navigated a lockdown. The phrase ‘I want to believe’ is sampled from a poster of a UFO featured in the classic science fiction television show X-Files; the artist had once intended to purchase a replica of this poster as a birthday gift for his former partner-turned-abuser.
Precarity is threaded through all accounts of intimate partner violence; people surviving at the thresholds of love and fear, hope and doubt. In choosing to film on his rooftop, the artist embraces the liminal – a boundary between home and the heavens, confinement and escape, doubt and deliverance. Writing becomes an embodied, broadcast performance, articulating a choreography of control in which hope is harm, and signs are sirens.
In this sense, a UFO could be interpreted as an unidentified ‘faith’ object, and ‘I want to believe’ as a kind of invocation, prayer or plea.