Sarah Maxfield’s “We deserve each other” at The Chocolate Factory

Sarah Maxfield made me cry. On Saturday night. At The Chocolate Factory. In her performed love letter to the NY performance community titled We deserve each other. I’d spoken with her a few days earlier for an interview and I wasn’t caught off guard. I knew the nostalgia would hit and felt the sentimentality and, you know, I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s a mom thing. Maybe it’s an age thing. But, I get it. I live Here. Now. But, I miss what’s gone because precious things dissolve and shift and everything changes. And, being okay with the present doesn’t mean that I can’t feel a kind of tenderness for that which has passed and that which is past.

The relative mildness of Maxfield’s manner mixed with the various items in her installation in the basement and the various voices that provide a lot of the substance of the work provide a lot of space for reflection. She asks a couple questions about first subway rides and the first time we saw the city at night and opens doors for our own reflection inside her autobiographical, oral history, retrospective that includes a few other people’s highlights from their time here. She sets me off to thinking about the first work I saw – Muna Tseng’s The Pink at La Mama – and I’m recalling how that’s where I first laid eyes on the man who puts my children to bed every night (while I continue to feed my addiction to Maxfield’s beloved community).

And, yeah – I miss those days. There is a discussion about what was and what isn’t anymore – not simply the ephemeral performances, but the ways of being, of being with work and with the body and issues around quality of living, and I thought of Arturo Vidich’s Body Island and how some artists are still willing to put the body on the line (not to mention his participation in THEM which bridges the what was with the what is in a real, deep, stinky, and gut wrenching way) and I found myself grateful that there are presenters like the Chocolate Factory that can support both kinds of work in the space of one week and still collectively think with others about how to sustain artists lives in performance. The work succeeded in its intention. It drew me back, pulled me forward, and made me think about all the art that’s been made since I’ve been here and left me grateful that someone’s been watching, including me and including you.

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