A Resource for Performing Artists, Scholars and Audiences.
As a performance and installation artist, I investigate longing, devotion and alchemy in durational live works. I am interested in the impossible in-between places: the moment right before collapse, dangling, almost falling, almost overflowing. I attempt to suspend time and extend that tipping point by conjuring a kind of quiet transformation by imprinting the space, moment by moment, hour after hour, with simple, ceaseless effort: sifting, licking, kissing, laughing. In my work, in every way, I seek the magic of being richly and intensely present.
My work starts with image; I sketch what I imagine the piece to be. I sketch what I want to see. This becomes the only way for me to view the work, because once I begin to develop the piece, I can no longer see it, as I have to embody it. It is as if I come upon the work as an outsider, as the Other, but once it's spied, once it's known, I slip into its skin, and can only see from its eyes.
Then I can write about the piece. That voice is somehow detached, unbiased. I describe the work like a newscaster. Now that I have become the piece, the persona, I can only talk about it as someone else.
Prospect pulls from the global and ancient traditions of quite literally sifting for survival, but also overlays the metaphor of personal seeking, the endless search, the enduring excavation of self. What are the things for which the human soul yearns? And how do we engage in this search?
Alone and determined, in real time, the performer sifts through a huge pile of earth--one of several mounds aligned in the space. All the while, a small golden token (including a wedding band, a skeleton key and a reliquary) hangs from a red thread, at first invisible, buried in the soil: the proverbial needle in a haystack, but perhaps also a seedling of hope and renewal. Each pile, day after day, is diminished and repositioned by just a few feet, allowing the token to sway and glimmer in full view. Yet, the woman stays wholly focused on her task, again and again engaging the fresh mound of earth. The work seems endless, so perhaps the connection to the task itself must be reexamined and evaluated. Perhaps the gold is not the goal; rather the woman is in need of the search itself.
Prospect, in this incarnation, includes 3 mounds of dirt, each weighing exactly one ton. Dressed in a tangerine shade shared by prisoners and monks, the artist sifts one mound for a full day (6 hours), without any breaks, every Friday during the exhibition. The remaining exhibition days will allow the visual installation to serve as a daunting reminder of the work completed and yet to be begun. At the far end of the space hangs a working Black Forest cuckoo clock, punctuating the hours as they pass.
Prospect is a meditation; it is a reflection of and response to the artist’s personal search during a time of mid-life evaluation. Prospect is further influenced by the traditions of rural farmers, grain sorters and ore prospectors, as well as the excavation efforts after many of the global natural disasters. The artist also embarks on a personal investigation of a 2007 tornado that damaged her parents’ home (and destroyed their neighborhood). In this way, Prospect speaks to the changing perspective of the culture of the US. We are not outside the natural cycles of life. Our actions, political and environmental, have far reaching consequences.
I know the work, then, wholly from the outside, in. It is usually at this point that the work is performed. Normally, the performance is never rehearsed, and presented for a length of anywhere from two to ten hours.
After the performance, I am able to return to my own point of view. I see with my own eyes again. Even though I have often relied on video to document works, I don't believe it best represents my performances. With the video, I write a precise, clear description: "That is what happened, that is what it means", but the video and formulaic description become merely illustrative. The video documentation does not seem to get to the heart of the work. A performance feels more accurately documented by still image, and a short, poetic description. I match the tone and rhythm of the poetic text to the work itself. Now image and text unite. I see the outside with an awareness of the inner perspective.