project image
Chris Kienke

first performed on June 28, 2013
Amos Eno Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
performed three times in 2013


Lexington, KY / Rosendale, NY /


stones over our heads

holding, held

the weight

beckons silence to overflow

time passes

and we are laid down

There is poetry in the way people communicate, how interpretations of language—verbal and nonverbal—generate meaning, or lack thereof. Intention is interpreted and our own inner dialogue rests like stones on our tongues as we bear the weight of our words and our history. The residue of language is held between or over one another. The problems addressed in the work include a psychology of the individual, the social science’s study of relationship and contemporary artistic notions of conversation as art.

Lasting over an hour and a half, this collaborative performance piece is a part of a larger series exploring the psychology and poetry of communication in relationship. I entered the gallery dressed in black, sat on a white bench, took off my shoes and stared at a stone from my childhood home that was on the floor. I waited for Thomas to enter. Wearing grey, he walked into the gallery carrying a rock from the home where his children were raised. We stared at one another and seemed to say nothing—and everything—across the distance.

We began the dance of conversation by lifting our stones over our heads, each bearing the weight of history, language and family until we could hold them no longer. We tried to stay in sync with one another in the rise and fall of the holding, but it was impossible; strength varied and vacillated from one to the other amidst tremors and tears and sweat and breath. Our stones—intentions—held the weight of meaning between us. When the weight was too much to bear, we set down our stones beside one another in the doorway as markers. We left the gallery, walking away from one another in different directions.