“Object as Performer” at CPR
I never thought sewing could be sexy until I saw A.O. Movement Collective’s thread duet (an excerpt from barrish) this weekend at CPR as part of “Object as Performer.” Two women deliberately sew the fronts of their shirts together with red string, and then struggle with the bond this makes between them.
Curated by Sarah Dahnke, the premise for “Object as Performer” was a little more tantalizing than it turned out to be. Two digital video projects were screened in the entrance gallery, and the performance portion consisted of four pieces in various stages of work-in-progress: barrish (A.O. Movement Collective); Restless Nest (Rebecca Davis); Under (Juri Onuki); and Backshore (Abigail Levine). As promised, all four works integrated an object; apparently this mandate also carried an unspoken correlation to nudity, following the long-established relationship between stripping down and perceiving the human body as an object.
The evening, however, got me thinking: what is the difference between an object as a prop or scenic element, and what makes it really a performer? What pushes it from the background or sidelines to center stage? Not surprisingly, in movement-based work, it seems to be physically connected to movement. In The A.O. Movement Collective’s barrish, the sewed together shirts are a driving force in the action, and become a powerful third party in what is ostensibly a duet; Davis’ Restless Nest begins in darkness with a mysterious swishing sound, which turns out to be the props being dragged along the floor. Instead of playing a passive role, inanimate objects can become animate, and that—to me—is the essence of the possibilities of performance.