Spread around the park wearing bodysuits made out of fabrics depicting a “tropical” pattern, four women held poses predetermined by the shape of the suit they wore. Audio tracks with female voices came out of concealed speakers. Audience members could listen when they got close enough to each figure. The duration of the audio track marked the performer’s ‘shift,’ during which they held one pose. In between shifts they could take the mask or other parts of their suits off, stretch, talk to audience members, or change location for their next shift. Shifts lasted from five to twelve minutes. The performance lasted for about two hours.
“Containers” oscillates between ideas of agency and impairment within the construction of the ‘tropical’ as a fantasy of leisure, pleasure and exoticness, and the presence of the female body within this fantasy. The poses held may be read as expressing an array of states and ideas, from availability, display, or power, to resignation and idleness. Through the presence of gaze and speech in some instances, or the lack thereof in other moments, these contained figures had a dialogue with the audience and the landscape of Socrates Sculpture Park. Visually incongruous yet sometimes camouflaged within the landscape, the tropical patterns on the bodysuits mimicked the fluctuating contradictions in the speech, pose, and gaze of each of these subjects.
Audio script excerpts:
“Chapter 1: Adventure of the Seas: You’re not a tourist, you’re on a boat.
They proceeded on their west course, and made over 50 leagues in the day and night, aided by the current. They saw much very fine grass and herbs from rocks, which came from the west, so they considered that they were near land. Everyone was pleased and the best sailors went ahead to sight the first land.
[…] The beach was only active when there was a cruise coming in.
From behind some rocks on the side of the hill behind the fence, I see a woman waving a white plastic plate at me from afar, and doing gestures, mimicking eating from the empty plate. I see more women doing the same. Waving empty plates at us, the tourists who were packing our plates with unlimited buffet material.
[…] The beach at Labadee was warm and salty. I wondered how many bodies had floated in it through the centuries, but the landscape doesn’t confess what it has witnessed.”