March 31: WE! This collaboration transformed a ubiquitous floor of a downtown office building into a strange and delightful exploration of the tensions and frustrations of the worker bee’s daily grind. Set in a muti-stage, tour-guided format, groups were led by artists dressed in business casual through a maze of cubicles and torn open drywall, plastic straw and yarn installation, curving backlit boundary walls, and a bark-and-wire strewn conference room, past a plethora of water coolers placed admidst the decay.
The masterminds were Jane Gotch and Mark Southland and included a line up of artists, musicians, dancers and technicians.
The performance began in a large open space, with music from Brad Cox and Helen Gillet. Performers simulated the harried, over important filing of documents with a frustrated sexual tension that gradually unleashed into a orgasmic episode with fica and filing cabinet. The paper pushers explored personal denial and obsessive mania, depicting the claustrophobic vulnerability and heartbreak of the constricting confinement, the isolation and disappointment of the modern corporate workplace. Gillet followed this with a solo moment that evolved into a bizarro Bach cello sonata.
Though groups started together, individual guests were selected to observe satelite performances in isolation. The first took place in a corner office. Dancer Kalen Compernolle entered and, in seeming ignorance of hte observers, proceeded to move about the room with movement reminiscent of the intensity of a startled gazelle before she takes flight. The two installations outside were observed through binoculars. One was a movie of Compernolle’s performance broadcast across the park from the building in a voyeuristic manner. The other was with a performer, Tuesday Faust, down at street level gathering and discarding stacks of files along the sidewalk in a maniacal frenzy. The group came back together for the final cycle: a trio in a darkened, airless room whose creepy singing, breathing and movement exemplified the pent-up energies locked in the average corporate drone. The movements in this piece were dramatic and shocking, especially the explosive geyser of file paper at the end of the piece.
Cox and Gillet’s individualistic lines worked in tandem to weave a senuous aural stream that permeated the entire floor, invading even the closed off, darkened space. Southerland’s saxophone sometimes joined in, cutting through the mellifluous continuity of the other performers. The experience of the combined performances was both exhilarating and humorous, confusing and mesmerizing. They captured the disconnect from the unreality that is most of Mid America’s everyday work experience.