O TIME YOUR PYRAMIDS
JULIE POITRAS SANTOS
“O time your pyramids” investigates Jorge Luis Borges’ text The Library of Babel using divinatory actions to evoke a liminal, dream-like space populated by sensual materials and cryptic texts. The work is durational. Performers unravel rope, cast dice, use scissors as a pendulum, and circulate, taking turns reading out loud from The Library of Babel, for hours at a time. The text, the repetition of the text, and the repeated actions provoke a meditative state for performers and viewers alike, many of whom stay to listen for long periods of time. Set in a gallery within a university library, the work explores how we make meaning by translating our experiences into language, and creates space for new narratives to arise.
In this work, I was thinking about the labor of coming to a new language. Exploring translation and the ways in which language creates social maps and structures, I was asking, “How can we unravel older maps and past histories in order to bring other stories to the surface?” The performers were asked to read as if reading out loud to themselves, and actions were repeated methodically. Every ten minutes or so, at the end of a section of text, the performers stood together and walked to the next station, settling in to the new task at hand. The next reader would pick up where the other had left off. The collective yet internal experience of performing together evoked a symbiotic organism. The word “unravel” can mean “to come apart,” but as well one can unravel a mystery, working together to solve it through research and discovery.
“O time your pyramids” was performed by Mollie Hicks, AJ Mullane, Monica Quist, Emma Ruff, and Jessalyn Levesque at the Reed Gallery, University of Maine, Presque Isle. Later in the year, the work was performed by Jessalyn Levesque, Jacqualyn Luca, Golaleh Yazdani, Veronica Perez, Sarah Emch, Kylie Ford, Amelia Garretson-Persans, and Tessa O’Brien at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art.