“Nuit Debout,” is part of a bigger series called “The Protagonist.” “Nuit Debout” captures moments from the United States 2016 presidential race, illustrating the divergence between emerging citizens’ needs and existing government priorities and power.
The title references the French Nuit Debout movement currently unfolding in Paris. Parisian citizens have mobilized against what they perceive as an established, out-of-touch government to bring a new perspective and agenda into power. As in France, American citizens are finding that political party preferences matter less than the candidates’ opinions, which can contradict and crossover traditional party lines.
In Chicago, I met with diverse women, who differ in age, education, household income, religious affiliation, and cultural influences. I recorded the women’s expectations and hopes for the next government. Their testimonies were used as part of my performance.
Three women had their heads molded live during the performance, in order to create a ‘citizen portrait’. One woman was a banker, very involved in her community. The second was a psychotherapist who volunteers in a Chicago prison. The third was a transgender dancer. I used the molds to make soap sculptures. I selected organic soap because of its similar density to the human body and long-term malleability.
During the Rapid Pulse Festival at Chicago’s Defibrillator Gallery, I was nude, covered with dark blue paint. I attacked the soap sculpture with a water cannon, mimicking police crowd control tactics used against demonstrators. This action was influenced by recent Chicago protests, in response to the surge in murders due to police brutality. The women’s testimonies were played out loud throughout the performance, competing to be heard over the sound of the water cannon.