project image
Cara Tierney

first performed on February 26, 2021
University of Ottawa, Zoom, Ottawa, Canada
performed four times in 2021


Ottawa, Canada


Entering the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, I became preoccupied with how I could keep momentum in performance while limiting audience interaction and being engaging. While I did not want to perform exclusively online, performing for others directly was charged with risk. This work was created in the context of a graduate program while making work in lockdown.

“It’s Like Talking To A Wall” was performed over four days in February 2021. It is an augmented performance that explores global commerce, transmission, and liveliness. The audience witnessed the performance in a classroom at the University of Ottawa. Two videos are projected within the room; one of a live feed of the Atlantic Ocean, and the other is a Zoom meeting space.

I begin the performance outside and the viewers watch from the physical window. The narrative element starts by asking my audience “can you hear me,” requesting that they come to the windows while I am seemingly on my phone. It becomes apparent as I remove my COVID mask and start eating a banana that I am not actually speaking. I then walk to the rear entrance of the Visual Arts Building and enter. As I enter the building the performance is viewed through the projected Zoom space. Using Zoom and my mobile phone, I stream pre-recorded and live video that delivers a narrative about the banana trade and dialogues with a distant person. As the work progresses, it is unclear when things are live, when pre-recorded, or whom I am addressing (the viewer directly or an ambiguous you featured in the narration). Different phrases are repeated in different contexts, functioning to collapse events and juxtapose them with specific dates and years.

The narration acts as a palimpsest where a banana’s life cycle, from bulb to delivery and consumption, is interwoven with a conversation with someone who may not be the viewer, and through a mapping of various cities where this distant person has lived or visited. This is amplified through the live feed of the ocean, representing a space between both nation-states and emotional states, while also containing tubes and wires of the internet.