Video still and website detail screenshot.

 

False Wife is a local website and a poppers training video that leads its visitors through an ordeal of transformation.

A poppers training video is typically a user-made compilation of pornographic clips, uploaded to adult video hosting sites. These clips are paired with text, hypnotic music, voiceovers, and instructions for action. Viewers are told to masturbate and sniff poppers, to let imagery and sensation meld, and reach a gooning ecstatic fervour.

False Wife is a poppers training video, but its material is obscure. Its narrative is drawn from a variety of folk tales in which transformation occurs, and relationships happen. Its footage is scavenged from sources that reflect these themes, reduced to slivers of significant imagery, rubbed together. These originating sources are warped or inflamed to say ambiguous things: to discuss desire, shame, transgression, and the longing for change, and the various ways we want — and don’t want — to face them.

Rules, cautions, and decrees can make life navigable, and make a future imaginable, even as they constrict the people who follow them (sometimes to the point of choking). In False Wife, lore is paralleled with pornographic instruction, and the comfort and terror of living within their rigours is animated. Fractious combinations of content and form — pornography denuded, folk tales deregulated — give a voice to these feelings. In a thrilling and terrifying tone, this work also answers: it overturns long-dormant stones, and tells a visitor what must be done.

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