Sunday, April 3, 2011

Explanation as Composition: Confession #2

As part of the ongoing Explanation as Composition audio tours: Confess your most embarrassing story involving a gallery, museum or other place of art.

Confession by Linda Lay

I said, “Did know that they have a glass box at The Standard hotel where someone sits inside of it and does stuff?”

That led to a discussion of the phrase, “Think outside of the box,” and how people were always saying that. We talked about how when you actually do think outside of the proverbial box, those people who say, “Think outside of the box,” are often offended.

My friend had an idea to do a performance there, to stand outside of it and call it Outside of the Box and then I think he said, “Man, Fuck the Box!” And that’s how it started.

We were high during that discussion and we were high when we committed to a performance piece titled, F.T.B. We thought it would be hilarious.

We had connections to a trendy warehouse-gallery that hosted events, which included art, performance, deejays, drinks and dancing. We didn’t have to get into the details about our idea aside from equipment details and how much space we needed. Those who rented the building and put together the events decided to trust us.

It took a month of construction and preparation. A friend of ours created a soundtrack for the piece and it sounded good. We decided it was going to involve dance.

We were high a lot and went to the beach for breaks during the construction of the project, which of course led to conversations about dolphins. Dolphin-people to be exact. We wrote poems about capitalism, consumerism and harmonious dolphin communities.

My friend said, “We will be two dolphins who become human, leave the ocean and have to learn how to live on their own.”

“Right! And suddenly we are hairy and don’t understand why, but visually, it will show the audience how human we are. I’m going to grow out all the hair on my body,” I said.

“Yeah, and we’ll mix green paint with mud to show that we are, you know, of the earth. We’ll put seaweed in our hair, to reference our past,” he said.

“I think we should mix some glitter in too because that way it shows the transformation was magical, “ I said.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

We collected boxes of various sizes, made of cardboard and we painted them white.

We formed human penises and vaginas out of clay and then made pink latex molds out of the shapes. They had to be pink because each box represented “the man” and of course “the man” was white and had pink genitals. The man was also apparently, in this case, sometimes a woman. We filled the latex penises with wax, so that they’d be erect, and we kept the vaginas the way they were. Eventually we attached the phalluses and orifices to the prepared boxes. We wanted them to look sterile, in contrast to our naked hairy bodies coated in glittered-mud and sea-grass.

He decided that we didn’t need a rehearsal. He said it was something that had to be done in the moment and I went along with that idea, but I was worried that it would not go well without practice. In addition to that I stopped getting high and found myself having trouble understanding the connection between, and reasons for dolphins becoming human and having sex with multi-genitaled boxes. But what could I do at that point?

On my own I came up with a narrative for the performance based around the tone of the music that our friend had written for the piece. It was electronic and we helped him edit and record it. After hearing the soundtrack I developed an idea of what we’d do, aside from simply “fucking boxes.” There had to be some kind of plan.

The night of the performance we did not get high but instead we shared one of those giant jugs of cheap red wine.

I remember stumbling, blurry eyed onto the stage area, in the middle of the crowd. It was dark. I think we were the third act. We had a square taped onto the floor, and that was our stage. There was a dark green net strung up around us, covering us. It was supposed to be shaped like a box.

When the net dropped the music started and there we were, in the middle of a warehouse that was an art gallery that was a dance club, and we were naked aside from the hair, mud and glitter.

The genitals on the box had been prepared with Vaseline, in order for the performance to go smoothly, pun intended.

Our job was to transform the boxes. For their own good. Through a form of dance-fucking.

I was quite lucky because like a proper actress I began to feel compassion for the “box.” I genuinely wanted to change it, and I knew it was my job to. At that moment I really began to believe I was once a dolphin and that somehow, through sex and techno music, I could make a difference.

I was more committed to our bizarre box orgy than my friend was, but I guess I might have had a harder time in that situation if I were male. Pun intended.

The crowd shuffled in close to us as we danced and related intimately with our sculptures, which was creepy, yet somehow appropriate and they all had videophones, which was a relatively new thing at the time. I can honestly say I didn’t expect to see so many.

Afterward we left town. Like, a week later. I can’t completely blame our exit on F.T.B., but take my word for it; if anything is going to set someone off and running, it’s going to be a performance art piece that involves sex, dance and sculpture.


Debra Dolphin

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