THISISITISTHISIT (SHIT SHIT SHIT): A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD
THE PLASTIC ARTS
There are too many problems. Indeed, that statement in itself is one of the problems this performance (and all of our work) tries to work through. There’s something nearly tautological about it, though, which is another problem. And that problem begets another, and another, and another, with few discernible (and zero practical) solutions. So, this is a problem of overload. And it is a problem of failure. We are a society of overload where everything is never enough, and yet one in which society barely recognizes failure-the absence of “just right.” That word, “failure,” makes us cringe, causing us to collectively look away, hot in the cheeks. We wanted to make a performance that celebrated failure as generative, productive, and bold. And, of course, we were terrified to succeed, which would mean that we failed, which is what we set out to do. Was it a raging success, then? The problem with that is fairly self-evident. As we began our process, we were asking one question: Why are we-as artists, as people, as representatives of US culture, circa 2011-obsessed with finding (making) something “new”? We were interesting in discovery, exploration, and that pioneering spirit we used to hear so much about in grade school. Our attention turned to the Great Explorers-brave and bold men and women that, invariably, failed as much (and often more and greater) than they ever succeeded. And yet they were hailed as heros-even if, like Meriwether Lewis-they never felt very heroic. (Lewis succeeded, at least, at last, in putting an end to his own life, post-Great Explorer days.) “thisisitisthisit (Shit Shit Shit): A Map of the Known World” was about the moment of cresting a huge hill like Lewis once did, fully expecting to be met by an eyeful of the majestic Pacific Ocean, only to find the reality of hundreds of miles of the Great Plains staring back at you. This is it! Is this it? Shit. Shit. Shit. Or, as many singers from Peggy Lee to PJ Harvey have asked over the years: “Is that all there is?” And what if it is? And what is “that.” Well, we sang, if that’s all there is, then lets keep dancing. But what do you make of this dance? It’s chaotic and ugly and messy, and it doesn’t really “work.” Is that a problem?