With “Memories,” I attempted to prepare myself for an imminent death in my family. The performance enabled me to express what I experienced while observing the steady decline of a loved one from terminal cancer. I sought to prime myself for the future tragedy by simulating and experiencing symptoms that occur prior to death: dizziness, nausea, disorientation, exhaustion, and unsteadiness; conditions which I have observed with this type of cancer. My grief fueled the intensely physical actions.
I began by entering the space. A stereo repeatedly played the song “Memories” from the musical, “CATS.” All the versions used were originally played on music boxes. Some of the iterations were highly distorted, while others were slow and tragic. I began by spinning as if I were inside of a music box and hummed along to the tune. I held my hands gracefully as if dancing ballet. Over my shoulder, I held a 14 lb. bag of cat litter. The litter spilled around me and caused a large cloud of strongly perfumed dust to fill the space. For a moment, I stopped spinning to attach a pair of beef kidneys to my back, near my own kidneys, with industrial strength zip ties. This is the organ that will ultimately fail as a result of this particular cancer.
Eventually, the spinning becomes faster and the humming becomes louder and more erratic. The audience became a blur as I rotated which caused me to lose my balance and fall to the floor several times. It became difficult to continue spinning after each fall as I was becoming increasingly dizzy and nauseous. I dumped the remainder of litter over myself and kept the empty bag over my head. I breathed in the dust that remained inside and began gagging violently.
When I felt I had spun enough, I began collecting the litter with a small dust pan into a central pile. The performance ended shortly after the thirteen minutes of recorded music though I continued cleaning through the intermission until there was no trace of litter in the space.
Rest peacefully J— 1996–2014 S— 1997–2013