Friday, January 22, 2010

Experimenting with Public Naughtiness

Like the force, we have a light side and a dark side. I believe even the most righteous people often have unpure thoughts and if we have learned anything from Catholicism, we are all sinners and will spend our lives routinely in confession. For jews, it is once a year. We figure, let the sins accumulate and do one massive fasting forgiveness orgy (followed by honey cake and chinese buffet) and hope for forgiveness, because if not, you die. Well, you are not written in the book of life, which by process of elimination means you are done.

So, I am confessing on my behalf and on yours. We are obsessed with other people. We can't help it as it is part of our anthropological disposition. History, in a nut shell, is about linking the past to the present through the actions of what sometimes feels like fictional characters. Our raison d'etre can be explained by looking back. However, what we are taught are the major accomplishments, the quotes, the speeches, the discoveries, the product that somehow guided history this way and that.

But behind all these seemingly great events, there are regular people that eat, sleep, and yes go to the bathroom, release gas, pick their nose, and have physical and emotional idiosyncrasies that usual escape our study, unless they happen to be interesting in their own right. For example, Beethoven loosing hearing towards his later years in life, or Napoleon having a complex, of perhaps Einstein failing mathematics. But can you imagine Marie Antoinette going number 2?

It is true that for most of our lives, we interact with a myriad of people, most of which present just a facade at some degree. There are private moments that we never get to see, learn and experience, and we are relieved that most do not get to share our private, intimate, and perhaps somewhat embarrassing moments. Did you ever loose yourself playing air guitar or conducting a rambunctious movement of a Shostakovich Symphony? Or perhaps slobber, snore, and say horribly inappropriate things in your sleep? Maybe you like you pick your ear and smell the wax?

Diverseworks presented the US premiere of Voyeur, the latest performance installation by Australian-based Company Clare Dyson that explores notions of intimacy, desire, and the act of revealing. Thought-provoking, it made me explore how many private moments exist in our lives, what it would feel to be watched, and how we respond when watching others. At times forbidden, erotic, naughty, tender, and sometimes hilarious, we walked into a world of the unknown, where we had a chance to explore this curiosity, with permission from the artists, but acknowledging our curiosity with the other 30 or so folks in the active audience.

The work presented took the following form: on stage, a closed performance spaced was created with drywall. Holes of different sizes, shapes, and heights were placed strategically around the space. You were given the option of where to watch, move around and change perspectives. There were also monoculars, as well headphones to "hear" the dancers thoughts, one for the male another female. To see a video, visit

Here, we truly explore the banal of the everyday, while intruding into the space and choosing our point of view, exposing the vulnerability of the artist, and exploring our own taboo for engaging in voyeurism in plain view of others doing the same thing. As much as we watch the artists, we also notice other eyes prying out of other peepholes, creating a humbling and accepting experience. We connect, we are being seen, without identifying ourselves.

I leave with many questions after exploring a taboo that I had not experienced before. I have the sense that I want to smile, and take a shower at the same time. Yes, we all have a dark side. We just have to be brave and open enough to admit it.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe this says something about me, but I was a bit bored with the confessions and personal stuff. But the shadowplay, setup, and dance were awesome. I only wished they had made a more coherent point overall. I guess I wanted it to be about something.