WHEN I LEFT THE HOUSE IT WAS STILL DARK
ODYSSEY WORKS / ARIEL ABRAHAMS, ABRAHAM BURICKSON, AYDEN L.M. GROUT, JEN HARMON
“When I Left the House it Was Still Dark” was a durational performance made for an intimate audience: an audience of one. The creative process for this piece, as with other Odyssey Works projects, is an act of attentiveness and devotion. In immersing ourselves in the life of an individual, the Odyssey Works team creates a new paradigm for the relationship between the artist and audience by creating fully participatory experiences. This radical approach has been quietly altering lives for a dozen years, operating site-specifically and traversing theater, literature, visual art, music, dance, dream analysis, web hacking and myriad other forms.
Between July and September of 2013, author Rick Moody’s life was increasingly overtaken by Odyssey Works’ performance. It began one evening when a family member gave him a children’s book, titled The Secret Room, to read to his daughter. This book, which appeared to have been written in the fifties, was actually a creation by Odyssey Works to seed the notion of private space and the potential of a place accessible to a sole person.
Shortly after this, Rick was given an invitation to visit Sid’s, a vacant hardware store in downtown Brooklyn; this became his own secret room and he continued to visit it weekly for the rest of the summer. In the space, he encountered a variety of objects foreshadowing moments to come in his odyssey. Among these were: a notebook detailing the story of a man searching for a cellist whose music deeply moved him, a recording of string music and a photograph of a prairie. One day after visiting Sid’s, Rick was brought to the airport and given a plane ticket to Saskatchewan, Canada. When he arrived, he was driven to the prairie in the picture, where he found the cellist from the story performing a variation of the music he had been listening to for weeks.
After this, other aspects of the performance began to manifest in Rick’s everyday life. Dancers in red appeared in the streets, on the subways, on the Brooklyn Bridge. A review of the story about the cellist appeared on nytimesbooks.com. New people Rick met seemed like they may have been part of the performance or simply part of the world. The border between the quotidian and the performative became permeable; Rick found his life continually penetrated by beautiful experiences of music and dance and foolery, all orbiting around themes of excess and balance which suggested the immanence of sublime moments. In the culminating days of his odyssey, actors guided Rick between locations in Brooklyn to meditate on the symbology of home. On the final day of his odyssey, he awoke in New Jersey, and his family and friends led him on a Homeric journey back to Brooklyn.