project image
Michelle Joy Navis
APRIL 15, 2020, 1:21PM

first performed on April 15, 2020
artist’s apartment, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2020


Brooklyn, NY

APRIL 15, 2020, 1:21PM

“April 15, 2020, 1:21PM” was a solo performance addressing the formlessness of isolation and the necessity of an audience. As so many were at the time, I was deep in the first Covid wave of quarantine and city-wide shutdown. I had been alone for days or weeks or months or years in my small and poorly-lit Brooklyn apartment with no work, no responsibilities, and no roommates. Time collapsed, night and day became less relevant, and my mental health was falling. I coped by creating things and recording myself.

I choreographed a dance to “Isn’t It a Pity” by Nina Simone and performed it in the kitchen, using headlamps to create cold, pale light and cast shadows. The set and costume design was pale pink and girly in an effort to distance myself from the comfort of my personal style and make the dance feel more performative. My scraps of design made the performance feel formal. I crafted the structure I craved with what I had.

The audience was my iPhone, propped on a kitchen chair. The music played through my laptop speakers and I danced for my audience. I often gazed at my audience as it watched me. I connected to my audience, and it reflected my performing body. Within the choreographed structure I had rehearsed, I improvised movements that expressed my sadness and loneliness and coldness, and I felt seen and acknowledged by my audience.

My iPhone obediently watched me, unblinking, until 5 minutes and 31 seconds into the performance, it stopped recording because its storage was full. The rest of my dance was unknowingly for no audience, lost and never witnessed.