project image
Dave Ratzlow

first performed on January 08, 2020
The Flea Theater
performed five times in 2020


Dave Ratzlow, Ellen Askonas, Bonnie Friel, Michele Tantoco, Jonathan Cottle, Gislane Maldonado

New York, NY & Philadelphia, PA


In August 2019, sitting on a couch in Portland, OR I flipped through my brother’s wedding album, fascinated by the story being told through these images, clearly directed by the photographer. I began researching wedding photography and became obsessed with how certain positions and gestures appeared so frequently. For example, the suit-wearing partner standing behind the gown-wearing partner and hugging “her” waist (a trope I call “The Protector”).

Due to my personal views about the institution, I’ll never get married and experience wedding photography as a bride, but why couldn’t I participate in this ritual in my own way? With Dave Ratzlow as photographer, I began inviting friends to pose in wedding photos around NYC, generating thousands of images. More photos were created during the interactive performance. “Nuptial Blitz” explores the choreography of contemporary wedding photography and is a work that exists both as a performance and as a series of photographs.

Presented in January, alongside my duet “SEX TAPE” (see Vol. 9) audiences were greeted in the lobby by a bridesmaid and on a first-come, first-served basis, five people were invited backstage where they chose a costume from a wide selection of formal wear. Meanwhile, the rest of the audience partnered up and began asking each other questions from the New York Times 36 Questions to Fall in Love.

Then, one at a time, I asked each volunteer which role they wanted to play (bride or groom) and for a fantasy location so our background could be replaced with their selection in post-production. (Favorite spots included Mars, garbage barge and on a boat.) We then embraced as Dave snapped photos. As Emma Cohen from ThINKing Dance noted, “Watching Revlock and the volunteers navigate their poses, I could see the beginnings of an awkward sort of intimacy, something distinct from the affection they were simulating. I also sensed the audience laughing with unusual warmth, perhaps still resting in the camaraderie of our earlier conversations.”

Wedding photography is glossy, rooted in fantasy and frequently gendered. In stepping into these tableaus, I point to the power of images to solidify cultural norms. Can I democratize the image of love by embodying these shapes with people other than my romantic partners? Can I chip away at still entrenched gender norms by inviting play? Nuptial Blitz is a safe space to metaphorically and literally try something on including touch and tenderness with a stranger.