sittin’ with moncton (3)

September 28, 2011

jè-st’ : un festival d’art performatif et d’intervention, moncton new brunswick, 2011.

it is an interesting question. how do we judge what “counts” as a performance  and what defines for us the word “performer?”

but first, some thoughts on today. i understand as a white female who practices an acceptable level of hygiene and portrays an acceptable appearance, that i get by. i mean, i can do things in public without being a suspect in advance of any crime. i am not male, not black, not homeless…

and so, i get to think of other things while i sit. i get to be seduced by the “place” where i have located my body. and today i was. seduced. the place is constructed like a theatre with the benches circling the perimeter. safe. back to the wall kind of feeling with the world before you. the world performing for you. today the leaves were beautiful. they had turned yellow, fallen to the ground, curled into themselves and were now ready to be picked up by the wind and led in the dance. and all the while they made that dry leaf scurrying over each other and the ground sound, and their leaf sound could be heard over the motors and brakes screeching from the road sound and the water hitting water from the fountain sound. and today i saw again the man in the blue plaid shirt and blue jeans who walks with his neck bent forward, and i saw again the blonde haired woman in the high heels and black skirt who pulls the empty dolly behind her on her way to the bank, and pushes the full dolly in front of her on her return. and again the woman wearing the faded pink pants and the pale green shirt stood at the bus stop for a good hour until she boarded her bus.

i wonder. about these people i see, whose paths cross “my place.” i wonder about the nearness and the farness of our bodies in relation to each other, and i wonder how this moving past each other affects us. i wonder, do we mean anything to anyone we pass? or are these other bodies merely screens? screens who reflect back to us those “other bodies,” the known bodies in our lives, our mothers, fathers, lovers, sons, friends. i wonder what i can possibly “mean” to anyone who notices me sitting here…again. i wonder if i will remember any of these people i have watched. will they come to me in my dreams? will something of the way they move, or a particular incline of the head, a swing of an arm, a manner of holding a cane, will any of this be held by me?

and what does it mean to be the stationary body, the body that occupies a “place” that is not her own, in this space of passage?

and here i rejoin my initial question. can a non-doing constitute a performance? can i claim this sitting as a performance because i declare it to be so? can one perform a pause, the comma that comes before the sentence is finished, before the definitive mark of the period?

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