2015, 60:00 minutes
Consider the paradoxical nature of the unicorn as a queer symbol. On the one hand, it is mythical – it does not exist – the word “unicorn” being used as a slur against bisexuals. On the other hand, it is a magical being, and serves as a powerful symbol of queerness. Can we imagine the possibility of some magical excess emerging from invisibility and erasure in queer and bisexual performance? Can absence itself be thought of as a queer kind of presence and appropriated as a queer performance strategy?
I. Ask Hole
You enter a big, black room. The room is dark, except for a single light illuminating the centre of the space. You go and stand in the light and wait. The light dims until you are left in the darkness. Then at the far end of the space, another light turns on, emanating from a hole in the floor. A head cautiously peeks out from the hole, and then a figure emerges, dressed in a plush pink dinosaur onesie holding a toy piano. They put the piano down on the floor, sit on the edge of the hole and start to play a song:
“Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to…”
II. Space Blanket Mountains
Two space blankets lie on the floor. Approaching each one in turn, microphone in hand, I perform simple actions, forming each into a small peak. The microphone amplifies every sound they make.
III. Inferior Scroll
I turn on an overhead projector and take off the pink dinosaur onesie, leaving myself wearing only a white jockstrap. I stand on the table with the projector, and slowly pull 20 meters of sliver ribbon from my anus while I recite a text I have written:
“I met a man. A filmmaker. A performer. An academic. He said, ‘We like you. We think you’re charming. But your work is boring. Nothing happens. You don’t say anything. You don’t do anything. It’s too unclear where one thing ends and the other begins. What it all means. What’s the point? You’re too shy. Too silent. Too secretive. You move too slowly. You’re too still. You slip under the radar. Invisible. Incognito. It’s all too cloak and dagger for us to keep straight. You’re a double agent. Dishonest. You’re only deceiving yourself. You don’t even know who you are, what you do, or why you do it. You have to make a choice. One day you’ll realize that we were right and you’ll thank us.’ (I try not to pay attention to men who talk only to themselves).”
Two silver stilettos sit on the floor. I explore each one using only my feet, until I am wearing them. I spray my hair and body with hairspray. I roll over a space blanket, which sticks to me because of the hairspray, forming a dress. I place one stiletto in front of a can of shaving cream, and step on the can with the other.
V. Camp Fire
I peel the space blanket off of my body, crumple it into a ball and place it on the floor between some orange gelled work lamps. I describe how I had imagined gathering around a real campfire, hearing music playing: “Can you hear me calling out your name? It seems I’ve fallen and I don’t know what to say…” I describe how eventually you would notice, in the distance, a brown bear. This bear would walk towards the campfire and choose someone – you. It would approach you and lean in over one shoulder, its face just next to yours – not touching, but close enough to sense it. The bear, I explain, stays with you for the rest of the evening.
Four overhead projectors are positioned around the room, facing the centre. Each one has a bunch of silver ribbon on it, casting shadows across the room. Holding the microphone against my mouth, I move around until I am tangled in its cable. I untwist myself and place the microphone on the floor. Taking a bunch of ribbon, I perform some simple actions with it that are amplified by the microphone. Finally, I get on the floor next to the ribbon and inhale several times, until it enters my throat and I choke.
I stand under a spotlight, wearing a pair of earbuds, listening to music. A person in a bear costume enters and turns on a foam machine. Strobe lights flash as the foam piles up around my body. I sing: “Why can’t you see me?” I recede into the pile of foam.
Teatterisali, Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
7-9 May, 2015