WORK / OUT
SMEZA KEEGAN / KEEGAN SMEZA
“Work / Out” is a thirty-minute performance piece that intersects athletics, performance, and installation art with trans / femme / queer identity. We used the sport of basketball as a bodily metaphor to challenge and bend the norms found in a culture dominated by masculinity. “Work / Out” investigates the “work” that takes place in asserting your identity and living “out” in spaces you are not usually represented.
This ritualistic improvised game and sculptures physically narrates our love of sports but questions its current toxicity through movement on the court. We try our best to persevere through the tangible / mental obstacles created by patriarchal standards that permeate even our most recreational activities.
Once we confirmed we didn’t have the budget for an actual basketball hoop, we realized we had the equal pressure and freedom to reimagine the piece as a whole.
In the space we placed five white pillars, four of which held white styrofoam heads and the other one a woman’s torso. Beneath the torso pillar we had a clear vase filled with clear liquid which was topped with a pink basketball. We created an audio mix of melancholic / upbeat music, interwoven with cheers, buzzers, and excerpts from WNBA player Brittany Griner exclaiming how she faces inequalities with stride. The moment the music starts, we make our way to the pillars and the improvised, theatrical, and comedic ritual begins. We worship the ball, we chastise it. We dance around the space, we dribble, and we pass. We laugh, sing, and cry. We finally move all the pillars with heads to the middle touching the torso pillar. The music slows with Griner saying on repeat “I’m here to work” and I ravenously cut the pink basketball in half. Keegan pours the clear liquid into each half of the ball. We take the heads one at a time and evaporate them into the liquid. The crowd has no idea how the heads vanished into nothing but we all rejoice in the magic. They go wild and we cheer knowing we won this game, this time.
We wish the biases, pain, and injustices for our femme family would disappear that easily.