Buffalo Bayou Products
The polluted waterway of the Buffalo Bayou was the lie that initially attracted people to Houston — what was publicized as a waterfront city was actually a swamp.
Ironically, while the Buffalo Bayou is a polluted waterway, the land adjacent to it is still considered prime waterfront real estate. This dissonance informed the basis my 2006 performance art installation, Buffalo Bayou Products.
Thinking about the relationship between the preservation and pollution of natural resources and the commodification of the land, I created Buffalo Bayou Products—a faux line of beauty products made from the mud of the Buffalo Bayou and advertised as healing and restorative. I sought to raise questions about the perception of truth, the media we consume, and our relationship to purchased goods. Alongside these questions, I had a genuine desire to investigate notions of healing and personal connection.
I answered these questions by hosting a Buffalo Bayou Products party, where wealthy women from the Houston area could come and test out the products, with the opportunity to buy them. Dressed as a water nymph, with the gallery decorated like a swamp, I provided hand massages with the Buffalo Bayou Products restorative clay to demonstrate its detoxifying properties. In actuality, the clay was not from the Buffalo Bayou, but purchased from Whole Foods. And yet, despite the absurdity of the situation—high end beauty products made from a polluted waterway—the women in attendance believed that the clay I was using to massage their hands was a real line of Buffalo Bayou Products, and many purchased some to take home.
This performance raised interesting questions about connection, healing, physical touching, and communication. Buffalo Bayou Products asked viewers to use their own experiential knowledge, intuition, and sensory perception rather than accepting the information presented.