“Who can say where the road goes? Where the day flows? Only time.”
In my performance “Only Time,” I have set up a rigid process that unfolds over a long duration of time, but I remain open at every moment to the manifold possibilities of interaction, communication, and exchange with my environment, my audience, and Enya’s eponymous hit song. My first iteration of the performance took place on Library Walk on the UCSD campus, a wide pedestrian path that leads to Geisel Library, about a half-mile long. Dotting the perimeter are eighty-seven 6’ x 6’ concrete platforms that I repurposed as stages. I began on the first platform along the path and improvised a performance to the length of the song, playing out of a boombox I brought along with me. After the song finished, I wheeled a cart full of props, including graduation gowns, a small chalkboard, a bowl, towel, water jug, chair, and a pair of black heels, to the next platform along the path, and improvised a new performance to the same song. I continued this process until I reached the end.
The lyrics of the song beckoned me to accept the contingencies of time; I encountered a Baptist proselytizer, an unwelcoming Queer Fraternity, helped promote Study at Sea and Zipcar, had various passersby return my library books, held “Office Hours” for anyone with questions to ask, performed movement exercises, and rested with sleeping undergrads. When not speaking directly to my audience, I often communicated with them via the chalkboard. I would then wipe the slate clean, to prepare for a new moment on a new stage.
In each iteration of “Only Time,” I ebb and flow with the repetitions of the song, feeling at times inspired, lost, introverted, chatty, and thirsty. Each iteration of the performance has found me in a different place in my life: one time a state of contentment, another mistrust, and another recuperation. At times I feel weighed down by the present, and question the viability of wiping the slate clean. At other times I feel light as air, and feel confident in its promise of moving on. The song has become a vehicle for reflection, and I offer the observer an opportunity to join me in contemplating Enya’s questions. With each new performance, I reflect on where the road has led me, then look down at the path that awaits.