by Jai Arun Ravine
September 19, 2014
The question that is central to my research is, “How do we move across space and time with respect to our collected histories?”
—Marissa Perel, artist statement
Passing Through the Gendered World
Are you conscious of your body when you walk into a space? This is the question I asked myself as I walked into the world created by Marissa Perel’s More Than Just A Piece Of Sky installed within The Chocolate Factory Theater. As I watched audience members cross the floor instead of walk around the edge, as I overheard small conversations, the rustle of bags, and the scrape of metal chairs, I wanted to ask everyone, Are you conscious of what is not moving, of what is still?
More Than Just A Piece Of Sky begins with our entrances. We encounter Perel curled up on their left side on a white bed with a white frame and white sheets, lit up by fluorescent white lights from underneath. The floor and walls are white. Books are stacked on the floor by the bed. On the other side there’s a rug and end table, upon which sit a Fisher-Price record player and a shruti box. Projected on the wall, paint chipped in many places, is a video of Perel and performers Jumatatu Poe and Lindsay Reuter talking about their relationships to religion, the body, queerness, fathers.
As the video plays, Perel is still, eyes closed, in bed—perhaps dreaming, but in my mind, listening and taking everything in. Is this a state of rest? A place of stillness? A pose of recovery? A burrow of comfort? A feeling of safety? A need for privacy? A memory of internalized shame? Is this posture a consequence of exile from one’s home, from one’s body? Is this posture the fatigue of race/gender/sexuality/disability written “all over myself”? Is this posture a reflex when [I] “take my body away from sight and disappear into self,” or “cross over into another world” to die, to disappear? Continue Reading