Daviel Shy, Autumn Hays, Abri Reed, Hannah Verrill: “Points of Departure”
Trevor Martin “Epilogue for Walt”
“Falling out of the sky, I dream I’m in a new country and my tongue feels heavy in my mouth—tired muscle. I think I’ve been talking too much. The mouth gapes, no sound comes out. Language does funny things here. Words lose meaning like...”– Trevor Martin
Under the direction of Robin Deacon, MFA students delivered a series of mini-lectures inspired by the presentational format “Petcha Kutcha,” during which a presenter goes through 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. The artist’s version following the same rules amusingly went by the name “Peachy Coochy,” distancing itself from its origins as a method of architectural pitch. Deacon assured the audience, “we are certainly not trying to sell you anything.” This mode of performance encourages elaboration on a theme, under constraint, opening the possibility for poetic brevity. The first performer, Daviel Shy, spoke for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds (as they all would), beginning with the form of a circle and elaborating into a rumination on beholding. She addressed the relationship between herself and the audience; “When an audience beholds you, they are resisting the urge to become you,” and likened this to strategies of traditional cinema. This seemed prescient in light of the symposium’s later fixation with screens.
Alternatively, Sabri Reed used her race with time to create felicitous transitions with a sense of urgency, in the spirit of the Exquisite Corpse. She read from Arnold Lobel’s children’s story “Owl at Home,” adding ingredients to the characters’ Tear-Water Tea, after shutting the book with an audible bang after 20 seconds. To, “a book that cannot be read, because some of the pages have been torn out” and “mashed potatoes left on a plate” she compounded “a book with no more pages left to read,” “the end of summer,” and “an office cleaned out for the next person.” In a second mixing of authorial voice, she combined a quote by authors Jessie van Eerden and Virginia Woolf. The conflations worked well within the logic of the frenetic time constraints.
Finishing off the second panel, Hannah Verrill situated her images on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at Douglas Park, after noon. She described each slide of a woman in a field, unchanged except for the subject’s costume and position, time passing more slowly than in the presentations before. As the progressing slides showed her falling toward the ground in fragments, language began to fail, words became nonsense that left Verrill’s statements senseless in their repetition. Verrill was the woman in the photographs and she was also the woman speaking to the audience. With this, she introduced the doubling of the self, which Robin Deacon and Alan Rhodes echoed later on, expanding the theme into contemplation on creative output, technology, and the nature of performance.