“!PANCAKES!” is part of the first phase of Outskirts, a series of live site-oriented performances, which take place in small rural towns within each of the twelve Midwestern states. The goal of the Outskirts project is to understand, reconfigure, and interrupt social constructs and cultural rituals of the rural Midwest through adopting a persona I have established in my current body of work. I utilize three distinct methods by assuming the roles of “participant,” “agitator” and “director” to better understand aspects of rural Midwestern culture from different perspectives. This structure provides separate entry points for the performer and the viewer to engage the subject: (1) as a participant complying to the rules and conditions of the ritual, event or social setting; (2) as an agitator disrupting structure, highlighting its fragility and limitations and to see what happens when control is lost; and (3) as a director assembling borrowed aspects of this region to produce something new.
These methods intend to record, reconfigure and disrupt social structures, producing new methods of examination. Emphasizing the significance that oral tradition has in shaping and sharing cultural meaning, the performances combine song, dramatic narrative, and jokes. I am interested in the peripheral elements of our contemporary culture and seek to understand and highlight their imperfect and misunderstood manifestations. This project utilizes performance as a means of inquiry, combining documentation, intervention and fabrication to examine how collective meaning is produced, consumed and shared throughout the under-examined context of the Midwestern United States.
These initial performances took place at the Davison Area Chamber of Commerce Festival of Flags; an annual five-day Fourth of July celebration, which included live music, a farmer’s market, parade, fireworks, pet contest and strong man competition. Taking on the role of the “agitator,” I confused a room of elderly locals by performing an original a cappella song “!PANCAKES!” and disrupting a 8:00 a.m. Pancake Breakfast. Fulfilling the role of the “participant,” I took first prize during the Pet Show Off Showdown competition, beating the reigning champion from last year, who was dressed like a bee and was sadly defeated, and won fourth place in a Pizza Eating Contest.