IN THE UNIVERSES WHERE I DIED
In The Universes Where I Died
“In the Universes Where I Died” was an exploration of mortality staged as an hour long performance. Unlike many durational performances, in which slower ritualistic actions are the norm, I sought to make this piece as kinetic and dynamic as possible.
As an infant I was given a 1% chance of living after my lungs were accidentally filled with breastmilk. If the many worlds’ interpretation of quantum physics was taken as a given, I would not exist in most realities that came into being after July 1986. This performance was designed as an abstract representation of the feelings associated with that. I divided the performance into four fifteen minute sections: MILK, WORK-OUT, HURT ME, and FALLING. Each section was demarcated using a soundtrack dubbed onto a cassette tape.
During MILK I sung songs in Spanish (my first language) and antagonised the audience by making them help me in and out of my clothes. I alternated between drinking beer and spitting milk out of a carton into a large jar while chanting “in with the good out with the bad.” I attempted to hold an inverted bridge yoga pose for three minutes but could only manage one-and-a-half.
During WORK-OUT I changed into running clothes and did fifteen minutes of intense training, including running in circles, doing push-ups and sit-ups until I collapsed. I transitioned into HURT ME by singing a song by the band The Carpenters. I chose to feature their music heavily during the performance as a commentary on Karen Carpenter’s death by anorexia. I spent the rest of the fifteen minutes writing the phrase “hurt me” on cards, putting them in envelopes, sealing the envelopes with a kiss and handing them to the audience. I made twenty of these cards. I then invited several audience members to attempt to hurt me using props I had in a bag.
During FALLING I smeared my face and body with lipstick and then drank the milk I had spit into the jar during the first act. I slowly and painfully consumed a dozen bananas, threw each peel on the ground, and then slipped on every single one. After this painful and nauseating act, I chose an audience member and shared a piece of birthday cake with her, ending the performance on a positive note.