Day 3: Seeing Things
As the late, great Kurt Vonnegut said, “There must be more to life than blow-jobs and golf”. So off I set to surrender my creaking, old, Calvinist frame to the will of some performance artists. The show was Seeing Things, which has an audience of exactly one – and at 1 pm today, that one was me.
The blurb asked me to turn up 15 minutes early. I did and after reading a short disclaimer, sat there for ten minutes in silence. Now here’s the tease. I danced a waltz in complete darkness with a stranger, looked down at my feet to find they were someone else’s feet, ate a strawberry in the dark, went eyeball to eyeball with a bearded, Indian transvestite in a sort of homoerotic lapdance, was spun round in a dark room, walked up a long corridor towards a living Vermeer painting (I think) and, finally, had my feet washed, and kissed, by the lovely Adrian.
Like lots of performance art projects that try to use technology, it’s usually dated or the wrong technology. In this case an iPOD and projector glasses were a little weak. They didn’t really do the VR thing, as so brilliantly described by Daniel Lanier in WE ARE NOT GADGETS. The work has lots of potential but this was a work in progress. The artist should team up with some serious geeks to get this going as it has loads of performance potential. The Vermeer thing had similar potential. I really did like all of this but the solemnity puzzled me. We need a dose of New Your chutzpah. The performers seem to very 'English' assuming that stillness and seriousness of tone is 'art'. This tends to strip the emotional impact from pieces. Let rip guys and take a few risks.
But it was Adrian who had most impact. We took seven deep breaths together, he then washed my feet in warm water, rinsing them with hotter water. His first question was “What is your relationship with your feet?” At times like these I’m tempted to be facetious, but he did make me think, as my feet are literally the foot soldiers of my body; used, abused and ignored. They must hate my brain, as they’re always being pummelled on some half-baked trip that my mind demands. We had a nice chat and that was that. It was the footwash that still lingers as the most relevant memory - a lesson in humility.