About a week and a half ago an artist friend asked me to do a presentation at her opening. The title of the show was The Performing Body.
One of Senga Nengudi’s pieces
She had videos along the walls or people doing expected and unexpected things. There were two live presentation. One was a cellist who provided some sweet background music. The other was mine.
One interactive display was about 20 sets of shoes. Senga invited the crowd to “walk a mile in someone else shoes.” In this case a mile equaled 23 laps around the gallery. People actually rushed to the display. If they couldn’t wear the shoes on their feet they would wear them on their heads, around their necks or on their hands.
Trying on someone else’s shoes
I met a woman who has made her own shoes for more than 20 years. She tried on a pair of stilettos and actually walked a mile in them. They looked pretty on her feet but she said she would never wear them again.
Well worn vs. cute but painful
Any way you can
I tried to capture the man above but he was on the move and intent on making it around the gallery. Sometimes when we are on the move with an intention we are just a blur to those standing still.
As for my piece; I titled it For Display Purposes. The reason being that each time I go out in public I am in fact on display and in some ways putting on a show. I asked for a platform since I sometimes feel I am on stage and the center of attention, whether I like it or not.
For my presentation I answered questions that have been asked of me or about me throughout my life. The audience did not hear these questions. They could only listen to my responses and deduce what the questions were. For example: I looked at one invisible person and answered, “Both of my parents are Black. Yes, really. YES. REALLY.” Then I turned to face another invisible person and answered, “No doctor, I am not anemic. Thanks for the iron pill prescription but I don’t really need them.” I went on like this for about 5 to 6 minutes. I ended the presentation by responding to what might be considered a rude comment, then saying, “You have a nice day too. Buh Bye.
The audience responded fairly well. I thought most of my comments were humorous. The audience did chuckle some; but mostly they listened carefully. One good thing: I did have their attention. I was told that there have been times when a performer is doing their thing and people are talking and pretty much ignoring them. That wasn’t the case this time.
Thank you Senga Nengudi and RedLine art center and gallery.