project image
Alexis Roberts Keiner

first performed on March 30, 2019
Incantations (Mojave Sound Art)—an annual installation based and site-specific art gathering in the High Desert of Southern California, Wonder Valley, Mojave Desert, CA
performed ten times in 2019


San Francisco, CA


Every once in a while, we all lose our bearings. In our daily interactions, in our political moment, in a time of constant friction and dislocation, what tools do we have to navigate?

A durational performance in ten parts, “SLACK” is performed with 100-foot marine ropes that are tied, braided, and sewn to my hair. The ropes weigh 51 pounds.

I perform once every ten days, slowly traversing each landscape for durations up to six hours. Bearing the weight of the ropes without using my arms to help, each performance confronts the physical toll of moving away from familiar anchors, toward undiscovered horizons. A dedication and a wound. A carrying with no physical destination. Held in the body, witnessed by strangers, “SLACK” entwines the affective to the tactile, the fragile to the fervent.

Every motion tugs. Every exertion wrenches. Risk and responsibility twist and coil. I do not speak but I sigh—I grunt—I scream—I stare into the void—I watch you—you watch me—close—or far—toil hyperv isible—a daily stroll—an unexpected scene—maybe enchanting—maybe confusing—the body is not an image—the strain pulses across my neck—folds over my torso—I search your eyes for connection—a stutter—recognition—we get tangled up.

“SLACK” took place from March 30, 2019 to June 28, 2019. It was performed in 108 degree and 43 degree weather—through 55 mile per hour winds and two eerily still sunsets. With the exception of Part One, “SLACK” was never permitted or publicized in advance. There was no information available on-site for passersby and those who stopped to watch or take photos were made to confront and contextualize the live performance on their own terms and in their own time.

Over time, the ropes acquire remnants from each environment—dust, refuse, seafoam, mud. What is already heavy becomes heavier. I forget how to move. I crumple in front of you. I shoulder the slack. I start again.