I TRUST YOU: YEAR 2, PART 1
I worked on a performance art piece in which I allowed people to adjust me to an extent that feels appropriate to them—it is called “I Trust You.” In November 2016, I was asked to perform at Performance Anxiety (Curator: Ventiko). After months of having performed the piece periodically, I felt like it was appropriate, at this point, to push myself further.
For this piece, I asked for audience involvement. I started as a blank slate, and allowed volunteers to use me as a canvas based on how they saw me. My intent was to understand the range of others’ perceptions of me. I am gender-nonconforming and have heavy anxiety. Sometimes I had people adjust my body hair. This time, I reached inward and created a script.
I had four different pieces of paper with mantras that I repeated to myself (such as, “I am so incredibly sorry”). I have adopted these phrases as rhythmic patterns. Because of my anxiety, the feelings articulated by these mantras would otherwise be confined within my mind. I entered the stage area, which was against a gallery wall and in front of dozens of people near a large window. I removed my clothing; asked a volunteer to record seventeen minutes for me; and asked others to come up and write these mantras on me, wherever and however they wanted to. I clarified that I would not look at myself throughout the performance.
There were five to seven participants overall. As they wrote, I opened the floor for a fifteen-minute long film discussion. Then I concluded the discussion, repeated the mantras one at a time to myself, and walked out.
The film discussion was a method of self-distraction, with part of the goal being to get rid of trivia in my mind. Or, at least, to present my thoughts in a forum where, out of my brain, the words were subject to a different kind of flow or a second opinion. I hope that I was able to push myself forward, and enact some sort of change and understanding, without being self-indulgent. The piece is open to change and adjustment. After the first iteration, it was performed eleven more times in 2016.