Out of An Abundance of Caution Volume 27
The Brick Theater (Live on Twitch)
Hosted by Maya Sharpe
Featuring Lydia Mokdessi and Jason Bartell, Emilyn Kowaleski and Diane Chen, and Jenny Seastone
Produced by Lauren Miller, Jessica Almasy, Theresa Buchheister
Tech by Lauren Miller
Although we’ve been engaging with online performance for a while, in both live and recorded forms, the ritual of it still strikes me as strange. There’s so little between you and distraction in the comfort (or claustrophobia) of your living space: you plop down on the couch or snuggle into bed, open your computer, find the link, and — watch. Like Netflix, but it’s…art, which demands active engagement of some kind. You try to resist the infinity of the internet just beyond the window open on your screen; you try to convince yourself that this is the only moment in which you could exist.
Luckily, Out of An Abundance of Caution is here to challenge our collective attention span. Volume 27 offered three inventive, evocative works tracing the contours of bodies past and present, along with a running dialogue about the themes of the evening via Twitch’s live chat feature. Host Maya Sharpe expertly ran the livestream and infused the event with vigor, whimsy, and synonyms.
body: the wholeness–the main part. density or consistency. richness of flavor.
Jenny Seastone’s minimalist film, Home Breath Absence, washed onscreen like a beach fossil. Pages in a homemade book turned at a glacial speed while intimate noises played at echoic volumes. This song remained the same: fork scraping bowl, shoe scraping gravel, past scraping present. A persistent breathing noise, simultaneously anxious and oceanic, anchored the sound score and the cheese-like, moon-faced tome moved at the touch of unseen hands.
To the viewer, now the reader: Has the way we listen to our bodies changed? How / in what way?
Is that connected to the will of the spirit…the focus of the spiritual eye?
Emilyn Kowaleski and Diane Chen, in collaboration with Uptown Works, showed the poem-film Our Heroine, a mythic re-writing of the all-too-familiar story of femme silence. Text unfurled across faces radiant with multi-hued light. Mouths opened to spill secrets of creation and destruction. Luminous orbs replaced tongues as they spoke their truths. Here was a powerful vision: legend-makers for a new world.
move: to arouse the emotions, to change place or position. to be sold (set of goods).
For the intermission/snack-and-smoke break, Maya performed her song “Yummy,” a delicious paean to amorous cannibalism.
And then, time reversed itself. DEVOTION DEVOTION, an experimental meditation on collective authorship and agency, last seen at Exponential Festival in January of 2020, resurfaced. Two videos played simultaneously, shifting focus from artist to artist with restless intensity. Lydia Mokdessi, Jason Bartell, and Syd Island triangulated a slow-burning score of sonic and physical droning — this time, in a pine-fringed clearing somehow idyllic and sinister, a site for a vacation or a crime scene. Lydia, framed by two long mirrors, lay on a square of silver in the dead grass and moved in tiny increments towards postures oscillating between sexy and uncanny. Jason twiddled mysterious electronics that emitted pulsating hums beside her, clad in all white. Syd’s vocals dripped in from offscreen, adding a balancing touch of distinct humanity with lush ooo’s and aaa’s. The trio still worked like a mobius strip, with no leader and no edges. In this iteration, though, the ideas and bodies had space. The work seemed weirder, thicker, deeper; not every movement piece lends itself to film, but DEVOTION DEVOTION only thrived under the camera. Drone, they theorized again and more thoroughly, engages with indulgence and discipline at the same time — or perhaps the discipline and the indulgence warp into each other the way the videos merge and split. The line between desire and monotony blurred into the fuzz of looping synths. The mirrors reflected mountains in the distance. Maybe this is the drone: the landscape not yet seen but always arriving.
move: progress, proceed. scootch, get going, get cracking.
Get your ass, or rather, eyes, to Out of An Abundance of Caution Volume 28 next week, and check out DEVOTION DEVOTION on YouTube on Thursday, September 24 at 8pm. If you’re feeling particularly philanthropic, please support The Brick here.