presented as part of a Performance Art Night
314 Main St
I'm going to state up front that this durational performance that I'm documenting here tonight was not as strong as I would have liked it to have been in execution. Conceptually, however, it's one I may want to revisit at some point.
First, two photos.
|Photo by David L Davis|
Above is a picture I took after I'd de-cloaked (as it were). you can see both red hearts and detritus from cutting them out. This photo was taken with a flash, to better show the color. It was a corner of a dark bar,
I went through several concepts before I settled upon this one. I knew I wanted some action that was a response to current events, which are weighing heavily on my mind. From refugees abroad to hate crimes at home, I feel very much in the darkness, unable to see what I can concretely do (besides some of the things we all can do, like give money to appropriate organizations and volunteer at same). Working within the darkness, however, I feel we must be committed to love, that we can't let the darkness paralyze us (my greatest temptation) or turn us equally violent or bitter. I called the piece Even So, the full phrase being something like, "Though we are surrounded by darkness everywhere and we are understandably afraid, Even So, I will try to put love out into the world."
When I do these sorts of performances, these quiet, slow pieces, I like being in a corner, out of the way, somewhere visible yet unobtrusive, for people to "find." In this case, I had a great spot. It was just inside the door at Notsuoh, so people would walk by as they entered and exited. People leaving should have been able to see how the hearts accumulated through the evening, even if they only saw me upon entrance and exit. The accumulation of the hearts should have been the thing.
However, it was dark. While the black cloth was appropriate for the concept, the red hearts didn't really stand out against it. Furthermore, except for times when I was making bigger movements (like rocking or adjusting my cramping legs under the fabric), I don't think everyone noticed there was anything there at all. This was brought home when people would try to store items behind me and bump into me not realizing I was a person. There was also a brief moment when another performer stored some white cloth by me, basically by just tossing it at my feet. That actually worked out in my favor as I could see out and the red hearts falling on the white fabric stood out nicely. Even so, it wasn't really part of the concept.
Cutting out hearts while shrouded was much more difficult than it should have been. I had a small light under the fabric with me so I could see---except that positioning it so I could both see what I was doing and not blind myself was a challenge. But one doesn't realize how much movement one makes when cutting out paper hearts until one's movements are restricted.
Despite being beside the door on a cool night, I still got quite warm under the fabric. I sweated and generally created a rather humid environment under the fabric. Humidity and crepe paper is a bad combination. Cutting damp crepe paper is hard.
I mostly learned that I cannot sit still for extended periods of time any longer. I started out on the floor and nearly started crying from the cramps. I tried to tough it out and then decided this was a bad time, place, and reason to die of a thrombosis, and I moved myself up to a bench, where my legs could unfold a little better. However, I ended up sitting on the cloth in such a way that I couldn't not sit up. By the time it was all over, I could barely stand up, much less stand up straight. I'm sure I looked drunk as I moved about, cleaning up after myself.
THEREFORE . . .
If I try to remount this performance, I will consider a few things.
While I like the idea of the hearts being created on the spot, in the darkness, I have to consider if the effect is harmed if I have the hearts cut out in advance and simply drop them out of the folds of the fabric. I like the notion of love taking time, that it's not a facile response to the darkness. On the other hand, I could have a larger accumulation hearts surrounding my figure shrouded in black.
I should only do this piece in a place that has some lighting choices.
I should probably have an assistant to help me with the drapery if I need to adjust under it.
And I need to start out in a position that my aging, cramping body can maintain for a couple of hours. Sitting on the floor is no longer it.
This is one of those things that I am glad I did, even if it didn't come off quite as I might have liked. I feel like artists need to make art in reaction to current events and this feels like one piece of mine that more directly did that. In fact, I told a friend that I felt very much influenced by Yoko Ono in this piece. Love doesn't only come out of the pretty places and is most needed when coming out of the darker places. I like to think she would agree and approve.