And for the vast majority of those who haven’t, one can hope, they might have gotten acquainted with their own hairy little creature – and that’s achievement enough, as far as Performance Art goes, don’t you think?
Well, a few days later, on a spectacular Fort Greene rooftop, our sampling of the co-creators of the performance is all very humble about it. As a mischievous pendant to the show’s opening, I have to climb UP a steep ladder and through another small hole to get to our meeting point, but this time, life greets me on the other side.
BlueMouth founders Stephen O’Connell and Lucy Simic are engaged in the jolliest of all banters with Omar Zubair, one of the Wooster Group’s visio-sonic wizard (who doubled in the show as the male twin Lilo, sporting the world’s most psychedelic of all mini-leotards).
Omar eats apples and the conversation sizzles. Premature babies’ lack of causal bodily experience inside incubators. Dyson’s new bladeless fan using the sole geometrical properties of a black hole to freshen your living-room. Einstein’s whole-hearted speculation of Time-space as inherent to said geometrical properties. Falling feet first into time-space, how long before our bodies get ripped apart by the uneven “pull” of gravity, to a trunk, a bust, a head? How do we daily redefine, though information, through our new devices, what is outside space and what is indeed already us.
Don’t worry there are also potted plants and loving mothers, scintillating New York City landscapes, wine, cheese and some excellent Fizzy Lizzy (are you aware of how delicious those sparkly, juicy sodas are? I can see you smirking already but I hate to disappoint : drugs don’t do me, and indeed how fortunate: this is us in our natural state).“The starting point of our company was “what would we like to walk into, what kind of experience do we wish to have?” explains Lucy, who met Stephen in Vancouver just before Graduate School and experiential theater at BlueMouth took them to Montreal, Toronto and finally New York City, 5 years and seven shows ago.
“In the first moments of the show, our goal is to disorient the audience, to move them away from the comfort zone from which we generally witness theater. Once this is achieved, the audience is really here, with us, engaged with their entire body and perceptions, and then what happens has the chance of being a really transformative experience” adds Stephen, “this is how we started focusing on site-specific performances, because of the range of perceptive tools it offers to the audience, and for the thrill it affords us, every time.”
Along these lines, past performance spaces included a deserted, tricked-out 1930’s ATT building, an operating funeral home complete with in-house corpse, a snowy field and shack in Prospect Park last year, a dilapidated hotel and warehouse in Toronto into which the audience was led blindfolded, after a blind 10-minute zigzagging bus ride.
“I agree” says Zubair in between sips of Fizzy Lizzy “when you put yourself in an extreme situation, you stretch the limits of your ability for both perception and reaction. In a way, by adding such a drastic new point of reference, you increase the depth-of-field, the depth-of-perception of your experience, you expand your ability to perceive and in a way, you expand your ability, your width-of-being as a human.”
I paraphrase. The more you live, the more you are. The more you open yourself to new arrays of perception, the more you grow your sphere of two-way influence as a human being. For you to experience new forms of perception and connection, there are crazy, starving artists out there that cook up new forms of expression and new ways of getting them to you, to more sensing parts of you (thought, vision, hearing, smell, touch and balance, getting you to sense with more senses, getting you to grow more senses if you can muster that.)
This is what they do. Evolutionary-inducing multi-discilplinary art.
Or, of course you can also sit on your couch and watch Iron Man 2 with a click of your remote, eat guacamole and chips, and just wish you could transform into a superhuman. Every once in a while, though, you might want to venture out in the city, and see how much of a challenge you can wage on your sense of self.
It’s all terribly French in the end and I am sure Ms. Darrieussecq and the whole of the FIAF staff would’ve approved. How the abstract met the convivial, how concepts rightly soared amid overhead passengers planes on the late summer rooftop, how epistemology enrolled ample wine and cheese to the timely rescue…
These guys have a few more up their sleeve, it seems. And if I know you at all, you’re just the kind of human that wouldn’t shy away from another taste of their experience-stretching experiments. So I’ll do my best to let you know next time one rolls about.
Till then, sweets.
For more information on upcoming reality-altering shows, visit any of the following websites: