“Intimate Performances” (working title) is a solo in which I experiment with vulnerability with strangers. In this piece, I share threads of family stories and romantic loss within a choreographed ritualistic structure that makes me at once available to and isolated from the assembled audience, who are positioned in close proximity to my body in the cozy, dark, candlelit environment of the performance space. Blindfolded, I explore the boundaries between performer and witness through movement, recorded text and gentle touch that exceeds the traditional boundary of performer-audience.
Is this an intimate moment? Did I just break the spell? Is closeness (not) intimate? How much do I need to expose for you to feel intimate with me? Can we be intimate and in control at the same time? What is the nature of the transaction of “intimacy”?
“Intimate Performances” builds upon a body of participatory one-to-one performance works that includes “Witness” (for one viewer at a time) and “Your Photo-Op with Abby Ghraib” (in which audience members pose with me for torture-themed tourist photos). These pieces invite viewers to safely, even playfully, insert themselves into the event and from there make moral and ethical decisions about how to act. These one-to-ones elicit heightened, critical participation from viewers, challenging the passivity of the viewer/witness/audience role. Additionally, “Intimate Performances” challenges me as the performer to make myself (emotionally) bare, offering myself up in a deeply personal way to the possibilities of an intimate, collaborative encounter with strangers, while also simultaneously problematizing the power dynamics between performer (maker, creator, presenter, giver, producer, one who asks for money) and audience (receiver, supporter, witness, taker, consumer, one who pays).