project image
Dianna Johnson

first performed on June 11, 2011
Diane’s Circus, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2011


Brooklyn, NY


Poulenc’s comic opera

Les Mamelles de Tirésias


The Breasts of Tiresias

) plays as I enter the room carrying 40 balloons in front of my body. I slowly let the balloons float above me revealing my costume. I am a burlesque clown. I am wearing a tight corset, high-heeled boots, curlers, and makeup. I also wear nipple clips that are attached to the helium balloons. The balloons lift my breasts as they pull my nipples toward the ceiling… I move through the room and, eventually, cut the strings free with my teeth, and pass balloons out to the audience. The performance ends when my breasts rest once again against my ribs. The clown is a mask… the masking reinforces the artifice of my appearance, heightening an awareness of the manipulation and distortion needed to conform to certain archetypes of desire and gender. What are most unadorned, and yet most contorted, are my breasts. Usually lifted and shaped with bras, here the lift is made a ridiculous spectacle. I don’t want it to be easy to discern between the pain, the pleasure, and the humor. I am curious about how we negotiate the dominant cultural cues that have shaped our understanding of identity and desire. Are we always being seduced by dominant culture, as it lays out the conditions within which our desires are formed? As we constantly challenge dominant culture, are we also, by continuing to name or define it in contrast to otherness, merely reinforcing its presence? This piece was developed within the context of a circus in my home, Diane’s Circus. The circus is an exploration of how the internet disrupts our idea of private domestic space. Different aspects of the project explore how the home can be both public and private. It is during one of the occasional live shows, with professional and amateur acts, that the piece described was performed.