“Postictal Paradise” was a cathartic examination of the most recent chapter of my life, utilizing the collective traditions of folklore and food to engage the viewer in my fragmented memories and stories: of adventure and of overcoming illness, loss, and trauma.
The narrative presents three characters/types to usher the viewer. One is amphibious, a gentle hopper: an all-knowing dependable friend, a dancer. There’s also the phony, has-been wannabe: a sloppy rocker, a relic, a greasy jukebox trickster tune just before last call—stained belly, stray hairs. The third co-star is the grampa, the bedridden wisp of a downtown heartbreak. A wallowing story, a smell of the old days.
In his famous 17th-century poem, Basho¯ describes how a frog jumping into a still and ancient pond provides a foundational act of disturbance, such that it wills one to recenter the self against the context of one’s existence. As a reaction to stimuli, this constant renegotiation can be used as a life methodology; it presents an ironic notion of oneness with the universe: that it is forever out of reach. That it is both forever out of our grasp and eternally desirable, this juxtaposition of lusts, allows the spirit to evade mortality and overcome adversity.
This philosophy was the basis for the production of the half-hour video trilogy called All Shook Up. On the evening of each show of “Postictal Paradise,” participants entered the gallery and were greeted by amphibious characters who provided lightweight lab coats to wear and steaming towels. Raised above the gallery floor was a canoe, filled with black liquid and adorned with clay ornamentation. Four separate performances ensued that led the audience into and out of each part of the video. Throughout, food was prepared and served, utilizing a backstage kitchen as well as on stage cooking. Grampa told a story of loss, his belly busting with popcorn. My mom talked about my traumatic birth as everyone cooked a collective river of eggs. An Elvis impersonator detailed a fishing trip as the wall behind him was punctured by bagels. A puppet show with miniature boats and live electric guitar accompanied the final on-screen sequence: my own boat’s destruction.