Chongha Peter Lee
Fermin Diez De Ulzurrun
|Pieter Breughel. The Tower of Babel 1563.
Rapid Pulse Day 3: The Tower of Babel Then and Now
The overriding theme of Rapid Pulse 2016 has been the number 5. In honor of the 5th anniversary, there are 5 nights of programming, 5 different kinds of venues/performance offerings, and 5 consecutive days in June beginning with June1. Each day of the festival is also themed, with the particular theme echoing the video programs. Day 1 was titled "This Is Not Sex." Day 2 was "Performing the Portrait." Day 3 was devoted to the theme of the global citizen. Appropriately most of the artists had started their lives outside of the United States. Much of the work addressed what it means to be a global citizen. What sort of ethical responsibility should one take on given the way in which the lure of the local has succumbed to the glamour of the global.
The idea that we presently live in a global community has gained increasing traction in popular culture of late. This idea, while having some basis in truth (tools such as the internet have permitted us to connect with people and see things that are half a world away) also manages to belie exactly what it means to have a global neoliberal economy where the gap between the haves and the have nots has significantly widened and the specificities of the local--language, customs, cultures, and religions--has been obscured by the ubiquity of English, spoken fluently and taught in the schools of all first world countries. Along with the video series, the performances challenged the ubiquity of English speaking culture, even as they were offered in English as a concession to the Tower of Babel gathering that converged upon DFB/Rapid Pulse on the evening of June 3. At stake was the notion of how to counterbalance the global with the local, the crowd with the individual, and ideology with stories.
Nabeela Vega Visiting Thahab
A long time supporter, blogger, volunteer and former performer at the festival, Nabeela Vega returned this year as a performer. Visiting Thahab explored the identity of a Muslim American femme genderqueer woman in the post-9/11 diaspora. The performance, which took place in and around DFB, lasted from sunrise to sunset. Using gold, a color traditionally associated with luxury and masculinity, Vega, originally from Bangladesh, walked around the neighborhood, hung out in a child's pool in front of a restaurant, and observed art work (in this case the window performance by Regin Ingloria and Amy Sinclair, which coincidentally also involved gold) from behind their makeshift veil. Vega's performance was quiescent. Beginning around 5 a.m. they walked around the neighborhood dropping gold glitter. Vega's performance was experienced by many as traces--a smattering of glitter, a gold cloth floating in the pool, a Facebook post or Tweet from someone who had found them, or Vega themself, saying little to nothing and letting the idea of the veil speak for itself. Vega's performance fittingly reprised their performance Purge from the third iteration of Rapid Pulse 2014, a split screen video in which Vega adorned, effected and purged their body of gold paint, glitter, and fluid.
As with Purge, Visiting Thahab questions the degree of assimilation allowed to Muslim women 15 years after 9/11. It also forces us to face the specter of fundamentalism, and to question how that particular system of belief has managed to overtake the Cartesian World view and scientific positivism. The traces of gold, so difficult to see, suggested our inability to understand fundamentalism, or indeed, to even acknowledge its existence.
|Gold glitter on the alley behind DFB as sunset approached on June 3.
For more images and video of Nabeela Vega's Visiting Thehab please see their Instagram account for the Rapid Pulse 2016 performance here.
Igloria, originally from the Philippines but now based in Chicago, and Sinclair, also based in the Chicago, sought to explore the human capacity for joy through the activity of cheering. Over the course of three hours, Igloria and Sinclair, both garbed in white, painstakingly painted one another with gold nail polish, made gold confetti which they dropped in front of a large fan, attached a gold banner to an air pump like the type that keep holiday blowups inflated, blew a small air horn, and seemingly talked excitedly to one another as they knelt over a small pile of gold confetti. Although not intentional, We Are Your Biggest Fans complimented Visiting Thahab in more ways than the use of gold. We Are Your Biggest Fans addressed the cult of fandom for sporting events, rock concerts, and parades that pervades the U.S., but particularly the Midwest and Chicago (home of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks). Like Visiting Thahab, We Are Your Biggest Fans addresses fundamentalism, ideology and identity formation. These events might bring joy but they also serve as powerful rituals for normative social bonding. We Are Your Biggest Fans had no object--the cheering was ritualistic, performative, and somewhat creepy.
Sarah Trouche Nuit Debout
Nuit Debout was made in reference to the strike movement happening in Paris. In an attempt to find commonalities with Chicago, Trouche interviewed three African American Feminist Activists based in Chicago. The performance took place against the background of these interviews. Prior to the performance, Trouche had cast the faces of the three activists in soap. The performance begin with Trouche, covered in blue/black body paint and looking a bit like a Hindu deity, lying on the ground. As the stories of the activists unfolded, Trouche, her body paint meant to suggest the color of the Chicago Police uniforms, stood up and proceeded to spray down the head using a window washing machine. The performance referenced police violence and the silencing of dissident voices, with Trouche taking the place of the police officers who try to whitewash the social conditions that have produced this violence. Sadly, just two days after the performance an article in the the New York Times decried the continued gun violence that has plagued the African American Community in Chicago.
Kelvin Atmadibrata 存在の耐えられない透明さ (The Unbearable Transparency of Being)
Atmadibrata's performance was based upon the case of Seito Sakikibara, who in 1997 was convicted of murdering his classmates in Kobe Japan. In this frenetic but very compelling performance, Atmadibrata, who is from Jakarta, Indonesia, attempts to enter Sakikibara's psychic state. The performance began with a maniacal dance against the back drop of a video of 砂の惑星 a 1990s song by Matsutoya Yumi that became the backdrop for Sakikibara's crime.
Atmadibrata was inspired by the recent release of Sakikibara's memoir, which detailed his obsession with death and masturbation. After dancing and hopping frenetically across the gallery, Atmadibrata placed his fingers in small containers of vaseline and dragged himself across the floor. The performance invoked the tension between popular culture and the twisted psyche that it produced.
Lolo Hjtyu Tuyuyu Adiós Amigo
Manuel Lopez, or Lolo Hjtyu Tuyuyu's performance addressed the restrictions placed on the individual by the state apparatus. A deceptively simple performance, Adios Amigo demonstrated the degree to which official forms of identification control our lives. Those who have easy access to identification documents from the right countries generally have no problem. As an American citizen, for example, I have been able to easily enter every country to which I have traveled with no problems. This is not the case with my friends, colleagues, students, and acquaintances from suspect countries--it is not uncommon to go through months in order to obtain a VISA, and often there are severe difficulties with an activity as simple as returning home to visit. This it was that Lolo Hjtyu Tuyuyu's caused a collective gasp of anxiety as he set (his?) coveted Euro passport on fire and then snorted the ashes as though he were snorting cocaine to the accompaniment of a national anthem (?). The performance concluded with the smashing of the radio. Telling the government to FUCK OFF can often lead to disastrous consequences such as loss of civil rights, surveillance, imprisonment, and even death. Lolo Hjtyu Tuyuyu's gesture was thus profoundly revolutionary.
Day 4 coming tomorrow!