Tryst with Destiny
August 16, 2015
performance with Social Health Performance Club during "Post-Midnight”, a series of artist responses to After Midnight, the exhibition of modern and contemporary art from India then at the Queens Museum. Organized in collaboration with guest curator Reya Sehgal.
Styling and primary photography by Tif Robinette
Inspired by Jitish Kallat's Public Notice, a contemporary reflection on Jawaharlal Nehru's infamous midnight speech and the Queens Museum's uniquely utopian geographic context, this new site-specific piece Tryst with Destiny, explores romance, lost illusions, and Promethean gambles.
While in the presence of Jitish's piece within the museum, I can be heard singing Marlene Dietrich's Illusions (a tongue-in-cheek lament for a post-war divided Berlin) in an increasing volume while rapidly fluttering my eyes, revealing the real, light-adjusting orbs beneath my painted eyelids –– both experiences inducing in me a mild euphoria and disorientation. Outside, my gloved hands, palms pinned with magicians' flash paper, remain outstretched in messianic pose until I approach two large votive candles bearing the wounded hand of christ. My palms hover over the flame and my gloves immediately burst into a short but spectacular ball of fire. The hair on my right forearm is completely singed off as I use the scorched, sharp pin-riddled gloves to undress. I walk into the wall of water and whip myself with a rubber flogger across the back before scaling the support structure underneath the Unisphere. Over eight feet off the ground at this point and dripping water everywhere, I take my time choosing one of the three inclined support arms to attempt to scale –– this is already terrifying. I very carefully reach the top of the support beam, with my back up against Antarctica like a modern Atlas and have to decide between reaching above me with just one hand, lunging for an opening in the sphere, or sliding back down in defeat.