VERB WOMAN: a kaleidescopic history

PRESENT/RESPONSE performance art series curated by Paul Couillard for Lambton Art Gallery SARNIA, Ont,  May 2010

3 hours gave time to experience durational-performance-high and to play. Rocking between PERFORMANCE/THEATRE;    DANCE-THEATRE & sculpture/installation;  entering shadow/simulacra; the gap:  THE BARDO.

I am always fighting (but enamoured) with narrative. Yet a deconstructed “plot” emerged over 3 hours in the 5 rooms of the gallery with Becky Burroughs and Ed Johnson. We even found characters or channels, as I prefer to call them.

I used  my mother’s ALZEHEIMER VERBS in a play-spot full of  2nd-childhood wonder, fun, fear. Becky channeled the care-giving angel one is lucky to meet in institutions and working with disabled/challenged; angels able to enter others’ worlds of fantasy, autism and total otherness..  Ed channeled the visiting caregiver (the fly-thru, damage-control, responsible, loving but exasperated relative/friend/partner) learning to juggle his own real world with the surreal world of  the in-mate ….

Lambton Gallery’s 5 rooms  suggested museum/archive,  hospital/nursing home/insane asylum, school/prison, treasure hunt/game board, brain mapping, and epic fairy tales/comics – Hansel & Gretel, or Xena the Warrior Princess.

THE HALLWAY was a portal — like Alice in Wonderland’s down-the-rabbit-hole and Ancient Egypt’s Hall of Ma’at entrance to the weighing of the heart —  but with a wheelchair! A place for wheelchair races and getting on our hands and knees to play CARD CONVERSATION — a disjointed loop of conversational complaints, comforts, assurances, fears … “I am so cold. It’s not far. This cup is so heavy. Let me put your sweater on. Someone stole my purse.”

MUSEUM of OBJECTS (my performance history thru frequent flyer use of flour, salt, ironing, bowls of water, wine, roses, etc…)

MEMORY:  Becky dips her hands in basin of water and looks at them in wonder — mirroring my saying in performance and real life —  “I have my grandmother’s hands!”.

MEMORY: Ed and I doing verb RECOGNIZING in our 3-way circle of art-aktions from 30+ years of performances. My performative-response to some of the questions Marina Abramovic is/has been asking since Seven Easy Pieces and her time at MOMA; as well as since Tagny and I performed the “essence” of our shared and forgetting performance history in our video-simulcast “GESTURAL ALGORHYTHM — Performology: A Re-Mix”.

MUSEUM of GESTURES was a place of tea/comfort we are always trying to provide for someone we care for.

I taped up a vertical BED in blue/yellow tape .  I’m always trying to get people to get into bed with me in my performances and video. Voila. My tribe.  In bed. With me.  Bed as a place of succor/rest. After a few minutes of breathing/cuddling/fake-sleeping, I would FALL out bed saying, “Becky, I fell.”  Becky would help me up off of that HARD concrete floor (very hard on my hips!!!) and  into the wheelchair and announce it was time for a movie.

MUSEUM OF VIDEO was darkened “cinema” from previous night’s artists’ talks where I showed M. DRAGU’s MUSEUM (11 min. of my history).  It silently looped (reflecting our looped-conversations) constantly throughout the 3 hours.

Becky and I would look at the “movie” and try to JUMP into the image to participate in aktions: walking, drumming, catching the dead gum wad scraped off the legislative buildings, kissing big close-ups of pursed lips, etc…  while laughing/playing like children. 

Each clip was a minute or less; each time a clip faded to black, I would ask Becky if it was over and time to go. She would assure me, no, there is more. And that we should stay. Because this movie is “all about you”.

Really? I would ask again and again after each blackout. I love movies about me! But like Gloria (ready for de Mille’s close up), the movie has to be played again and again and again because yesterday she remembered but today she forgot. Again and again and again ….




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