ET IN ARCADIA EGO
“Et in Arcadia Ego” is an interventionist movement-based performance with themes of nostalgia, contentment, abjection, and emptiness. I often find myself lost and dissociated when I am within grocery stores. Surrounded by everything of uncertain authenticity and origins, packaged, labeled, and sectioned for your convenience. Images of long-lost pastures and promises of honesty, compassion, and satisfaction. It is very routine.
Two clowns and I danced in ghostly unison in the frozen section of the supermarket to a fragment of melody from “Are You Lonesome Tonight” by Elvis Presley, which played from a speaker hidden among bags of potato chips. Between repetitions of the refrain we froze into a sinking drift accompanied by a long silence of radio static for many seconds. This cycle repeated a while. (The record must have been skipping for over an hour.) Then I lip synced along with the spoken portion of the song, addressing the lines to the shoppers:
I wonder if you’re lonesome tonight
You know someone said that the world’s a stage
And each must play a part
Fate had me playing in love, you as my sweet heart…”
The clowns performed a contact improvisation duet while this happened. Just before an employee appeared from around the corner, the song ended. We pushed our shopping cart down the aisle as if nothing had occurred.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight” was the last song Elvis performed live. The final iteration is sloppy. He’s crying, seems intoxicated, and can’t remember the lyrics. Soon after, the King of Rock and Roll would have a heart attack and die constipated on the toilet due to medical issues and the consequences of heavy and prolonged amphetamine and barbiturate use. The speaking part of the song references Shakespeare’s As You Like It.