Between Walled Rooms: Tyler Rai on Ivy Baldwin’s “Keen [No. 2]”
it looked like a behavior — not an aesthetic
a virus, a sigh
a behavior that many were a part of making visible
i was struck when soft moans of grief gradually turned into song,
as one woman repaired the arms of her lover, so that she could swim again.
i imagined they were both swimmers.
in grief, then in song, in struggle, then in dance.
i witnessed the brutality of tissue paper,
that thin, transparent material
strewn so intertwined along the black backdrop,
as if it were hair, or arteries, guts —
as if they were her guts when she spilled over,
and out, over and over again —
before she let out the scream from between her legs,
over and over again.
i was happy when she danced.
that look in her eyes as the music crescendoed,
in the end,
i remember the tissue paper in their hands,
like rags, like sticks, like bones,
but it was tissue, like aprons, like softness.
unlike a weapon, but used to kill
off all that was wicked and crushing
to our bodies.
it was about our bodies.
no, it was about our wildness.
as if you could divide them.
suddenly the tissue paper appeared
dense — as if all that lightness
was sopping wet, and suddenly heavy,
could smother even the loudest thing knocking.
they screamed, together, high pitched.
i liked the way her spine convulsed, and realized
it was not grief but again an expression of a behavior
i hadn’t known before.
their eyes, their gestures, a part of some map —
maybe a code, but first and foremost that behavior.
they left a mess, and it was all untangled.
Between Walled Rooms is a series of freeform responses to live performance works, initiated by Tara Sheena. This work is a response to Ivy Baldwin’s Keen [No. 2], which premiered at Abrons Arts Center in June 2017.