Friday, July 25, 2008

Kira O'Reilly 2 - Friday July 25, 2008

There are no expletives strong enough to begin this post. Holy shit? Stop the blog presses? They just don't do it justice.

I saw Kira's third and final performance and left unsure whether I would laugh, cry or vomit, it was that good.

Now keep in mind I live in Manitoba, land of Mennonites (pacifists), NDPers (soft socialists) and friendliness (as espoused on our license plates). I am such a baby. And Kira is full-on, one of those performance artists who really uses and stretches the limits of a body. This piece contained all the intensity, all the endurance required of her previous two- and three-hour performances, condensed into 20 minutes. I don't even know whether I can or should attempt to describe it.

Just to back up bit.... On Thursday night Kira performed her second piece, a response to objects collected in the first. From two half-collapsed and collided tables the object-offerings cascaded onto the floor. Kira sat facing them, hooded, her feet in bowls. At three different times she stood (wobbly in the stainless vessel/shoes) and then inverted her body into a headstand, one hand or each of two bathroom weighing scales.

Tonight's performance was a movement-based. Like the previous two, it was performed almost naked, costumed merely with a couple of things that were present among the original object set. Kira wore silver pumps and a green feathered headdress (echoing the green blindfold and green Abu-Ghraib-like hood of the previous pieces, but in contrast VERY Showgirls).

Kira is a lovely looking person and has amazing physical skills. She can easily create an image of "beauty". But her body is marked with what seems like hundreds of cut marks. It is as if all of the scars most of us bury inside are manifest upon her. So even standing still she presents a complex image. This tension was magnified by her actions: smiling genuinely at each of us audience members through a reflection in a hand mirror; walking on her knees, clutching her ultra-femme high-heel clad feet in a grotesque hobble; alternately moving as if to take flight and smacking her flank until hand-shaped welts appeared; repeatedly falling from a headstand, with her full weight. Throughout it all she was completely present, completely herself, and completely dedicated to performing the tasks which she had set for herself.

I honestly don't know what to make of it except to say it rattled my insides the way only performance can. I would read the piece as implicitly feminist but that's me. As the young folks say on facebook,"It's complicated." Like, so complicated I feel as if I'm going to lose control of my bowels. Hair-raising. I will remember it into the next lifetime.

As David Khang said, "Beautiful. And brutal"

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