For me, performance has always been about troubling the subject-object relationship, explicitly and directly. When done well, it explodes the relationships so that these positional categories are shattered, fragmented, and turned shrapnel. A good performance locates and dislocates the ‘you-ness’ and ‘I-ness’ from a centered and well-balanced place. and self/itness, whatever that might be for each of those positions, is momentarily dissolved. Yes—the performer acts, acts out or doesn’t act at all—observes—but the audience does too act—the audience responds, reacts, rewards. Sometimes the audience leaves—this is acting too. The performer instigates the you into a position of action. In my projects—see some here—the linchpin of each performance relies on my ability to submit to a fully selfish and selfless trance where the you/audience is doing the most acting, the most “work.”
“LOOK AT ALL THESE FEMALES IN THEIR PANTIES TAKING SELFIES”
On the weekend of October 10th, I performed as part of writer and performance artist Kate Durbin‘s Hello Selfie project. Performance instructions outlined cryptic guidelines like “You are a cat but you are also a girl” and “You have no mouth so you do not speak.” Our rehearsals included trying on the bob-style platinum blonde wigs, looking sad, acting like cats and—despite not really needing it—practicing taking selfies in various poses that read teen girl. This we did easily. We talked briefly of what to do in case of harassment and what to do if a police officer approached. We also talked about what to do in case of rain.
“WHY YOU ALL DRESSING LIKE THAT”
I spent the month leading up to Hello Selfie having bad-feminist thoughts. I made plans for rigorous workouts and dieting that never took place. Half of the time I spent considering my body’s flaws and the other half I spent hating myself for having these thoughts. I managed to negotiate my thoughts down to their scariest, barest bone: the possibility of NOT being considered a fuck-object, in the way many of us women are conditioned to understand our own value, feels like a kind of death via exclusion. The loneliest part: the acknowledgement that my fellow kitties in this performance were probably having these same concerns and the realization that solidarity in these thoughts didn’t make a difference to me. At all. We want to be revolutionaries, but desirable, pretty revolutionaries. So, I had my thoughts, the bad ones, and the good ones too, like, if you want to be a feminist, not obsessing over your appearance is how you enact feminism for yourself. The work of my feminism, at least some of it, starts with me and my thoughts.