Enough is Enough

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Building a house of cards, using a custom-made deck with images of current calamities and the politicians associated with them.

event:
HOW TO SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE
venue:
online
location:
online
sponsor:
La Pocha Nostra and Grace Exhibition Space
date:
June 2020

Project Notes:

I returned to the USA in March 2020 for a mandatory two-week quarantine. I had been performing and teaching in Europe, but COVID 19 was quickly spreading around the globe.  Three months later the stay at home orders were lifted in the United States, but clearly prematurely.

As I watched the winter recede and spring emerge, I thought about how my life as a performance artist was ending.  It was clear that a return to live events and international travel would not happen soon.  What would I do?  Creating work for digital media has never been of interest to me, nor the prospect of learning how to use the different online platforms.  And since so much of my work has involved smell, touch, and different kinds of engagements and direct interactions with audiences, working digitally was unappealing.

But then I was asked to create a work for How to Survive the Apocalypse.  Initially I was going to decline, because I was didn’t think that I could come up with an idea.  But then I determined that I had to try at least once to make online work, and resist being driven by fear.

I approached it as I normally approach work that I am making in response to a specific site. Technically, I knew that we would be working on Zoom, and it was going to be live-streamed on the Grace Exhibition Space’s website.  I knew that my performance would occupy one quarter of the screen, and that there would be a total of four performances being seen simultaneously.  We were asked to create a single action that would last an hour.  I understood that the four performances would to be silent, with a soundtrack that would be created over it all.  Was that also created live while watching us? I don’t know.  It is also true that none of us knew what the others were planning to do.  Thematically, we were asked to make a work that responded to what is currently happening in the world.

It was not until two days before the event that I finally came up with an idea.  And fortunately I had the materials at hand that I needed, since our stores are still closed and it was too late to order anything online.

I decided to build a house of cards, but I made my own set of playing cards.  I downloaded images from the internet, resizing and printing them onto adhesive label paper, then cutting and adhering them to a deck of cards.

They are images of strife in our world today.  There are photos of repressive and corrupt politicians from authoritarian and fascists regimes of the United States, China, North Korea, Russia, and Brazil.  There are images of the COVID 19 pandemic in the United States, Brazil and China.  There are pictures of militarized police attacking demonstrators in Boston and in Washington DC, and at Standing Rock. There are photos of Trump’s expansion of the border wall between the US and Mexico.  There are satellite views of the recent oil spill in the Russia that is moving towards the Arctic. There are also photos of forest fires in the Amazon and California, as well as other images showing evidence of global warming such as glaciers melting, oceans rising, inland seas shrinking and rivers flooding around the world.

In the performance I shuffled the cards and built them into a house.  I held each card up close to the camera so that the viewer could see the image before I added it.  The building was always precarious, and each time it fell, I reshuffled the cards and built again.  Even though the combination of cards are random, interconnections can be found between the people and events that are pictured, and the collapses that are occurring throughout the world.

We have to use these openings to make change.

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