I performed multiple “hatchetations” in and around Houston bars and art openings with the intention of being antagonistic. An important part of this experience was performing at events where people came for performance, but were side tracked by seemingly uninvited guests, which was also the actual performance.
Inspiration for the role came from historical, charismatic temperance leader Carrie A. Nation (also spelled Carry A. Nation) who condemned drinking but condoned violence. Nation’s radical response included entering bars and vandalizing them with a hatchet. Such acts of violence were called “hatchetations.” Many followed Nation, whose uniform was dark mourning clothes. She referred to herself as a “Spiritual Entrepreneur” and sold brooches and other small works with hatchets on them in order to pay her court fees. Both those who were for and against drinking collected her items.
Several months prior to creating these performances, I had a dream where Nation made an appearance. This dream inspired me to conduct research about her and then to create the performances. These ranged from being a presence to handing out pamphlets to singing temperance songs to breaking glasses and bottles, all while dressed in black mourning clothes. Almost all of the performances included at least one other indoctrinated performer with some including up to eight performers. During these performances, we were often met with awe, disgust or confusion. While performing at various art venues featuring performance art, we created confusion with actions which were distant from the expected performances at such places.
I felt a connection to Nation due to the dream, her religious background and the unique life she created for herself including coining her own terms and creating and selling objects. Additionally, the experience of surprise and confusion by viewers, and the antagonistic and unexpected role created to channel Nation’s energy was an attraction for me as a performer.