Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Nevertheless" Travels

What physically embodied metaphor aptly expresses, simultaneously, our fragility, both as individual bodies and as societies, and our resilience?

This past couple of years I have had the opportunity to perform versions of "Nevertheless" in Paris, Belgrade, Tegucigalpa, Madrid, Barcelona, Miami, New York and Berlin.  The piece has changed and evolved to implicate the audience more in the action.  I used to lay out all the eggs myself before the action officially began.
El Papiolet, near Barcelona, Spain - Manuela Bernasconi

  I now hand out eggs to everyone in the audience at the beginning.  I ask them to notice the egg's weight, it's temperature, it's texture, color, and form.  I ask them to consider the life cycle of an egg, and what eggs mean to them.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Miami Performance International Festival, USA

Then I ask people to place their eggs somewhere in the performance space:

Grace Exhibition Space, Brooklyn, NY, USA - Ryan Hawk

Sometimes people place the eggs at random, and other times they take great care in laying out patterns or designs.

Miami Beach
Dimanche Rouge, Petit Bain, Paris, France - Melanie Boisvert
Grace Space - Ryan Hawk

Next I place myself in a fetal position at one extreme end of the space.

Political Performance Symposium, Belgrade, Serbia - Lee Campbell

Internal energy builds, and I vibrate and twitch until something releases and I unfurl. As I unfold perhaps my head, perhaps my hip, perhaps my knee falls upon and breaks the first egg. The sound of the crack travels and occupies the full attention of the public.

Gravity appears heavier than usual, and directed toward the opposite end of the field. My feet, thighs, skull, knees, hips, shoulders, stomach sometimes caress and sometimes land square on the eggs. Sometimes, many times the egg crunches and crumples, yellow yolks spreading, and other times the egg remains whole.  I slowly, with articulation of limbs, make my way to the other end of the field. 

Miami Beach

Dimanche Rouge, Petit Bain, Paris, France - Melanie Boisvert

Centro Cultural de Espana, Tegucigalpa, Honduras - by Victoria Martinez

Miami Beach, Cesar Mieses

Paris, Eliane Akl

Miami Beach, Cesar Mieses
I finally reach the other end of the field. I stop, turn and survey what has transpired, implicitly asking the audience to do the same. We all see how many eggs have broken, but we also notice how many eggs are still whole, surprisingly many. I gather up a surviving egg or two in my hands, contemplating and appreciating.

From here the ending has varied, depending on the site and the energy in the moment.  I may gather up the surviving eggs, return them to their cartons, and offer them to the public.  Members of the public may help me gather the eggs.  I may also leave the scene for the public to consider for a time.

Interpretations by the public have varied from the macro-political to the very personal, from metaphors for war, hunger and geo-political domination to the the inevitable accidents and small destructions we encounter in daily life.

A note on nudity:  At first I performed 'Nevertheless' fully clothed.  I avoided nudity because I found it too distracting from the premise of the piece.  Over time I decided that a nude body could interact on a more elemental level with the eggs, and that I found the clothes distracting.  A couple of times I performed wearing only underwear out of a strange modesty, and I received feedback that the lines of the clothing ruined the approximation of my form in a fetal position to that of the egg. 

The color of the field underlying the eggs has varied.  In cases where I could lay the eggs directly on the ground the color was that of concrete or the grey paint of the floor.  In places where a quick clean-up was required I have used plastic of different colors: bright green, fuchsia, and red.

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