project image
Erin Fussell

first performed on February 26, 2016
John Sommers Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
performed once in 2016


Albuquerque, NM / Los Angeles, CA


“(un)” is a performance within an installation that embodies the process of clearing oneself from feeling stuck. One could feel stuck in different ways, such as within a job, a relationship, a program, or an emotional state. I create a meditative experience in a room and then break that quietness in the performance.

In the room, a rope of sheets hangs from the ceiling and snakes around the floor to meet the wall, where the projection includes the sheets as they continue to extend into a desert landscape, with the image creating an illusion. Viewers cast shadows on the desert image by the projector light. On a monitor, a short-looped video depicts hands tying two sheets together to create a knot over and over. Every five minutes, audio states, “If I could just…” The video reinforces the meditative experience that I create in the room.

A rope of sheets is the classic escape symbol, like a young girl pulling off all the bed sheets to escape from an orphanage or a hospital out the window into the night. She escapes into an unknown future. The desert and the gallery room represent an “un” space, or a place of possibility in the empty and unknown.

I begin the performance by ringing Timsha bells to highlight the meditative vibe. Monks sell these bells for people to use in rituals that shift energy. I sit with my back to the audience to create a space for them to be separate from the performance and turn their thoughts inward. After I ring the bells for five minutes, I stand, face the audience, and request that the audience assist by clapping in rhythm. The idea is to emphasize the need for outside help in order to move out of feeling stuck, as well as turning inward. Then, as they clap, I dance my way out of the room, moving closer and farther away from the light to change the shadow play of my body on the landscape with the projection. The improvised movements that recall youthful social dances break the meditative space. At the end, I offer books of matches to the audience that read: “(un) I’m not stuck.” I see the matchbook as a token that represents an empowering personal reminder to keep that little flame alive within the self.

#getquiet #danceitout #neverstuck