Monday, May 21, 2007

8th annual Visualeyez, Opening Night, Latitude 53, May 18 - 27, 2007

Performance art, or maybe better termed as 'live art', continues to transform itself into countless fractions, and so it was suggested to record these pieces simply through its entry points.
Theming this year around the city, with all its fluctuations and multiple perceptions, the performances from the 8th year of Visualeyez all boiled down to the alienation of urban interaction.
The city, as represented and performed, appeared at first to resemble the post-Simmel reading of the modernization of the city and its citizens. Less apocalyptic than presumed, the city as interpreted is essentially rendered as a place of intense loneliness.
The opening night performances immediately established the crucial issues of performance art and performance anxiety. The body, the site of performance, pushing us to accept these crafted experiences, is never a one-way dialogue. Although there is one "performer", each witness to the "performance" accounts as performance itself.
The provoking reverberaton of T.L. Cowan's spoken word piece established the distance, the unrequited connections of urban interactions. All that remains is the source, the live voice and body from which this mind speaks, being in performance, live, spilling out stories, spilling out roles, blurring the boundaries of performance art and life to a room filled with silent, observing and estranged faces.
Lance McLean's opening night piece continued his ability to draw out human empathy using his own physical body as the site of apathy. Enclosing his head into an extended wooden structure, simply painted white and with bodies flanked on either side and resembling an inverse martyr's cross, "audience" individuals took turns, at random, to try and saw McLean free. Lines were drawn behind his head and in front, faces turned unable to bear the possibility of harm. It was near the end, as McLean had a one foot cube still around his head, and his limbs limp and falling closely under the saw's blade more than once as strangers attempted to destroy this perishable structure around the fragility of human skin.
Cheap thrills in showmanship, possibly, but doubtful; the live unfolding of who chose to enter the scene of this performance, to help and ease this other sentient and pulsing body out of his self-inflicted cage, was the most powerful performance of all.

Photo: Jessica Tse, 2007.

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