Incredible! Nov. 7th was one of those days where LAP took on a life of its own. It’s sometimes unbelievable to me how performances can sometimes sync up in a continuous stream of thought. 8 performances all came together in what I concluded to be a comment on the divide of private and professional/public life.
Britta Peterson started off with an amazingly choreographed dance piece. To me it was like watching acrobats in symphony hall. Something about it made me envision a young couple helping each other out of emotional and troublesome conflicts with being up, then down, then at equilibrium. Yeah. . . that good. That deserving.
Sallie Scheufler showcased a participatory piece that involved the audience helping her rip up a stack of her photos. A very LARGE stack of photos. For those of you unfamiliar, Sallie is a photography major. So as these beautiful photos were being torn to shreds, you could almost feel a sense of wonder from the audience as they all began to sneak a few seconds to look at some of the photos before following suit in ripping them up. This untitled piece holds a lot of weight, which in my opinion raises a few poignant questions about the sensitivity and natural curiosity of humans. We were instructed to help her tear up her photos, but why? Then as we grab a portion of the stack, we are naturally inclined to view them. Naturally we are curious as to what we are destroying, if the subjects in the photos have anything to do with it, and ultimately, the moral decision to tear them up as instructed or to maybe to divert from instruction and sneak a few chosen survivors? Bravo Sallie!
Charles Rice dance/performance piece also captivated the audience with the questions that seem to follow losing a loved one, a friend, anyone. His sound piece combined self-recorded/self-reflecting questions e.g. “Did you know that I loved you?” interjected with bits of modern day popular music that seemed to revolve around that very subject.
It’s hard for me to write about my own work because I’m inherently biased just by writing this blog. But here is me trying my best: my piece involved instructing the audience, and subsequently judging them on the importance of how to professionally butter their toast. In this participatory performance, I had 4 audience members sign in, then retrieve a piece of toast from the “practice area” and then judged them as they buttered their toast with provided materials and instruction. I proceeded to move through the entirety of the audience. Prefaced with a motivational speech about the importance of making a good, professional first impression to a potential employer, I substituted the word “resume” with “toast.” Thus commenting on the lunacy involved with the standard job-acquiring process.
Blake McConnell wowed the audience once again with an experimental sound piece that originated as a participatory intervention outside the doorway to the performance space. He stood behind a bar and talked with audience members before the start of the event. Continuing in the performance space, the audience watched a video projected onto the bar as Blake drank from a bottle in between reading proper instructions aloud as he wrote them on professional comment cards. Live sound mixed and cycled from his scrubbing the bar, shaking drinks in a tumbler and tapping the tumbler. Images from the video included bloody hands caressing a bottle of Jim Beam and bloody spot on brick sidewalk.
Visceral and moral questions and thoughts about a bar tenders code of conduct with customers seemed to be the underlying theme. One question that I was submerged with: What level of responsibility for the well being of others do bar tenders face? When does a bar tenders action indirectly stir things up? Pun intended once again. But I discovered through asking myself these questions, that the performance breached a higher level of understanding of ones forced moral ambiguity within the workplace. It made me question my own personal doubt in my work environment. On an extended plane, what, if any self-belief do we sacrifice as employees? Do we take our actions at the workplace to heart? Should we?
Cory put on an experimental piece that started with him reading from a composite notebook about how words don’t matter; rather “These six words will not matter.” About half way through his piece, a cell phone rang loudly from the audience. As most of us sat there glaring at each other for someone to realize to silence their phone, Blake sprang from his seat and took the phone (which was discovered in an empty chair) outside the performance space in attempt to silence the disruption. However, it was later realized that the noisy ring of the phone was in fact intentional and part of the message of the piece. I took it as maybe we are not facing what is in front of us because it simply doesn’t matter personally to us. Another great “divide” piece (pun intended) that comments on the public and private interests of humans.
Kevin exhibited a sound piece that narrated his thoughts as he sat in a chair facing the audience. About how he should start his performance, about how he was nervous, and other various observations about what it feels like to be on stage in front of people, how to break the ice, how to react, how to properly respond given the situation. It was one of the strongest pieces I’ve ever seen that illustrated the divide and coming together of ones public self and private self.
Ricardo Avila multi-sensory performance was a continuance of his ongoing BX23 project. His performance evoked a survivor-mentality that arises when confronted with limited resources, and closed with a soundscape that could easily rival STOMP. At one pivotal turn in the performance, Avila smashed the “head” of a rival who possessed a jug of water. The head, which was crafted of watermelon, was absolutely pulverized and the juicy smell emanated throughout the space for the rest of the evening.As the audience dispersed at our close, it was apparent that everyone was ravenous from the luscious smell of the watermelon. Everyone wanted a piece of those brains! It seems to me that the audience reacting in this manner only strengthened Avila’s message about wanting/needing what we are unable to have.