Repetition with accumulation of gesture, material, and content form the basis of the durational performance/installation “Shift.” This work explores the varied connotations of a shift: a worker’s timeframe, a change of perspective, and an overturning of a paradigm. As long-term collaborators, Longva+Carpenter share a commitment to converting an awareness of political trends into aesthetic and poetic—thereby personally accessible—performance works. In “Shift,” the artists explore the significance of an individual entity apart from the heap. A single wood chip may have little value on its own; it is the collective mulch that functions as a commodity. The performance and resulting installation call attention to many small, supposedly worthless individual pieces. One performer sits at a long table filled with garden mulch; she highlights the small fragments by inscribing each with a positive mark (a plus sign). The second performer arranges them in perfect alignment—a collective remade. Yet, in revaluing some pieces, the performers must still make judgements and choices. The microcosm of our personal aspirations and agendas plays out as a metaphor for the larger political climate. We must remain focused, hour after hour, day after day, on the techniques that honor diversity and undermine hierarchy.
“Shift” was performed for a total of fifteen hours: five hours each of three consecutive days.