DAY FIVE: Anxiety, food, love, glass, spices, knives, toast, drag.

octobre 6th, 2013
Jacob Wren

I arrive late, introductions have already started, and I feel, for a moment, rushed and anxious. I often feel rushed and anxious, and I believe that implicit within the idea of performance is also a kind of anxiety, an anxiety that is only natural when one person is doing something that many others are watching. NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO MENTION THAT Basil AlZeri HAS MADE COMPLETELY AMAZING FOOD FOR THE PAST FIVE NIGHTS. THE FOOD HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE. SOME OF THE BEST MEALS I’VE HAD IN RECENT MEMORY. Now he is hunched over the edge of the pool dropping cutlery into a large metal bowl. At least I think that’s what’s happening, I’m once again seated where I can’t see, producing more low-level anxiety. (*****Basil AlZeri*****) I can’t see but I believe he is lowering everything he used to make the amazing meals for the past week, lowering or dropping each item slowly into the pool. Amazing food but now its done and good riddance to the whole set up and kit. I’ve spent the past five days typing for the site, so maybe I should lower the entire internet into the pool. I like the idea of the internet as a physical thing that can be dropped, that can be picked up, that can smash and not just crash. The performer walks into the pool, rolls a small platform on wheels across the length of the pool but as soon as it arrives it starts to roll back. Then he runs all of his supplies, food, pots, convector oven, runs each item right across the pool one at a time. I now feel my first impression was wrong, it was not good riddance in any sense, he will set up the kitchen but this time in the pool. He has a knife and a giant bag of onions, cutting the top and bottom from each onion and laying them out. (Earlier today I was making the joke – re: the American government being shut down – that all mainstream newspaper editors currently writing headlines, because news today is so absurd, are in fact only auditioning for jobs at the satirical newspaper The Onion.) The smell of the cut onions is actually starting to make me cry. Reading the newspaper also often makes me cry, and I always feel so pathetic when it does. And anxiety makes me cry. And the internet. As he is cutting onions he makes a phone call and speaks to someone in another language, I am embarrassed to admit I don’t know which one. (I will check his bio after for clues.) I’m actually starting to find the smell of cut onions overpowering, he is now chopping them up. I basically don’t cook and this fact also produces anxiety. When I watch someone cooking I always feel as if I’m watching some strange ritual from another planet, something I will never understand or really know how to do. In some fundamental way I believe this relates to performance. For some reason a phrase just appeared in my mind: there is no life without rules. Maybe I think this because in some sense you can’t cook without a recipe. He picks up a large bag of already chopped onions and pours it over the onions he just chopped, takes out a bag of chicken, pours it onto another cutting board, sprinkles spices over the chicken and onions. (I once read an amazing book about the history of spices: Tastes of Paradise by the German historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch.) As I said, I don’t know anything about cooking, it seems cooking is about to happen, but instead he starts getting undressed and washes his face, head and torso from a small bowl of water, puts on a clean white shirt, clean socks, brand new shoes, sweater and apron. Another thought jumps into my mind: cooking has something to do with love. He is trying to light a gas element and it’s not working. Anxiety. Then, after awhile, it works. He keeps looking at his computer and I wonder if he’s checking a recipe. There is a long period of waiting, if I knew something about cooking perhaps I could ascertain why, maybe something is marinating, then a slide show, a single frame with four photographs (polaroid’s?) as he smokes a cigarette. He is waiting, makes another phone call, same unidentified language. I now think maybe we’re waiting for someone to bring something here, something from the outside world. Waiting is also often connected with anxiety. Now he’s on skype. Were we waiting for him to skype with his mother? For his mother to be ready? (Later we learn it is 4 a.m. her time.) At any rate, that is what they are doing. There is that expression: you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, but I’ve always thought it wasn’t exactly true. You can’t really choose your friends: they either happen or don’t. His mother is now leading him through the recipe step by step as he cooks. Cooking has something to do with love. I don’t think I would ever agree to do a performance with either of my parents, not even on skype, even though both my parents are completely supportive and great. He is talking with his mother and they are cooking together, the chicken is going into the giant pot. I wonder if my parents might go on line and read this. I suddenly realize that he dressed up – put on a new shirt and sweater, a clean apron – in order to skype/cook with his mother and I find this fact almost unbearably moving, like something from a previous era, a previous era in which they also had skype. I stop typing for a very long time as they cook together. Sometimes, in English, he describes the meal they are making, translating his mother’s explanation, but I don’t type that part. Then later, near the end, he says “this is a Palestinian dish,” (I suppose also the language they are speaking) and it feels important so I take out my computer again. Waiting in line (for the dish I watched him cook) I’m again late for the next performance. As I enter, eight figures in black are lying in two rows, each with a pane of glass atop of them. A record player turns, its needle turning on a square pane of glass. The repetitive sound of something turning with delay, echo, a repeating delay-noise-rhythm. (*****Marlène Renaud-B. *****) From the website: “…in perpetual construction, highlighting an in-between state that is situated between abstraction and materialization…” Someone brings me food and I’m eating so can’t type. While I’m eating, in unison, all six figures sit up, each holding their pane of glass above their heads. I wonder if I should stop eating and type but decide to finish first. Now people are applauding and I’m still trying to catch up with what came before. It was calmly paced but somehow still quick. In unison they had held the panes in front of them, in unison they had dropped them but the glass didn’t break. Six black figures lying under glass, holding the glass above their heads, holding the panes in front of them, dropping the panes against the repetitive delay soundtrack. Being under something, holding something up, taking (ones anxieties) and dropping them. As they clean up, I’m now realizing some of the glass did actually break, though I missed it. Things break and if we’re not watching we don’t see and it’s as if it didn’t happen. I think I also mean by this something like: you have to watch yourself, something might happen inside you, something might break, and you might not notice, but then want to delete the last sentence because I worry it’s a bit stupid. Black figures lying under glass also makes me think of anxiety. Everything makes me think of anxiety tonight. Also producing anxiety, I wrote so much more about the first performance than I did about the second. It’s unfair, but with stream of consciousness I suppose you can’t always be fair. Instead you have to follow the stream. Two women standing in the empty pool, waiting for the crowd to notice. One of them is holding a butter knife. (*****Macarena Perich Rosa*****) From the website: “My goal is to colonize myself with a new way of thinking.” She is speaking very quietly and I can’t hear what she’s saying, but I clearly hear the translation. “If you want you can come closer to the artist, it’s not a problem if you’re close.” She hugs the translator and the translator leaves. Holding the knife with both hands in front of her face and the audience enters the pool, coming closer. The knife vertically against her face, bisecting it, pressed against it, slowly moving downwards, down past her chin, out in front of her, slowly bending over as if to place the knife on the ground. Knife on the ground. An expression on her face it is difficult to describe. A part I miss because I can’t see, then I go closer. Dragging a small brass object with her mouth across the back wall of the pool, all the way across, turning the corner, then half way across the longer side. Slowly with effort, like everything worth doing. Sitting down in the corner, slouched down, and with a marker slowly drawing a vertical line that matches the line on the swimming pool tiles and also goes across her forehead, back and forth. Cutting her bangs so they match the black marker line. Rolling out a long black satin carpet, holding one end, rising and crouching to send waves across it. With scissors cutting, crawling, down the centre, from one end to the other. Now it is two long strips. Getting a volunteer to take one end of one half. Another volunteer to take one end of the other half. Black satin waves on either side of her, black hockey helmet with big dreadlocks covering her face, mumbling for an audience member to give her the knife from the opening, which she can’t find because the dreads are covering her face. There is a large quantity of bright red the ground from before, slowly rolling down the slope of the pool, I must have completely missed something. What caused all the red paint? Tonight is about anxiety. (The next day I’m emailed a photograph: two hot water bottle filled with red paint that she kneeled on, one knee on each rubber bottle.) Again I can’t see. I think she cuts candles or butter in half and now she is sliding around on it. Her feet sliding out from under her. It becomes more and more slippery as she slides more and more, unable to move forward, sliding as if skating in place. Taking the hockey helmet off and putting it down beside her. With the knife, scraping the butter (I’m now almost certain its butter) off from under her bare feet and spreading it on a slice of bread or cracker. Eating the bread. (But for all of this she has her back to me so I’m unsure.) I ask someone after and am told it wasn’t clear if she actually ate it or just sort of crushed the buttered toast into her mouth. With butter on our feet, and the same butter in our mouths, things will never be steady. Last performance of the night before the closing party. (I’m completely exhausted from the week and fear I’m no longer doing the performances justice. It’s always at the end of the festival that one is most exhausted.) Half naked man lying on a white sheet. Strange rock pillow under his head. He’s holding another strange rock pillow on his chest. (*****Celeste Marie Welch*****) From the website: “A song by Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.” A woman in her underwear is tending to him somehow. Pulling things out of the rock-pillow: a white net, a smaller gold pillow she puts under his left foot. Wrapping the net around his face, covering his whole body with it. Applying lipstick to his lips. Pulling a white skirt up over his legs. Is he a corpse washed up on the shore and is she dressing him in white sailor drag? There is a video behind them, landscapes and water. The small gold pillow under his foot turns out to be a gold jacket that she puts on herself and buttons up. Getting dressed up for the big show. She is wearing blue medical gloves, looks at her hands, takes the gloves off. She sits him upright and dresses him in a white jacket, buttoning up the jacket. She stands him up and walks him like a zombie out onto the dance floor where they dance. He is covered in net, in a white skirt and jacket, as she runs away and he continues to sleep dance without her. As the song plays. She has a giant black and white pillow boulder and she drops it down into the pool and he continues to slowly sway, getting into it. The video is now Selena singing accapella, wearing a big red hat. The music speeds up, as does the dancing. She rolls the black and white boulder forward, lies down into it, lip-syncing to the song – a love song, different than the one before – jumping on the boulder again and again as she rolls it around the pool. Out of her suitcase she takes a single white rose, stares at it while applying excessive lipstick, shoves the rose in her mouth and spits out the petals, still lip-syncing. “Now I’m dreaming / of your tonight (some words I miss) and there’s nowhere else / I’d rather be / here in my room / dreaming with you, tonight / holding you tight…” or something like that. Jumping on the boulder (dreaming of you tonight) again and again. Then she comes right up to me, lip-syncs directly at me (and there’s nowhere else / I’d rather be / here in my room) but I don’t notice right away because I’m staring at my computer typing. I’m a bad audience member. Cheesy love song sung directly at the blogger. Jumping on the black and white boulder again and again.

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