Performance Art: do you see what I see, help me in my unbelief

My first piece done with another and by another I mean my precious sister. I don’t typically use the word “precious” since it reminds me of my Baylor University days in Waco, TX in which I temporarily pledged a sorority. Gasp. I ran quickly away after I crossed over to the other side and realized how unethical and exclusive and trifling these things can be. Additionally, Texan sorority gals really like to use the word preciousss in meetings discussing which girl they want to gamble on. It’s used to describe their favoritism for young, supple prey, I mean freshman and in the context of Christianity: Shee iz so preciousss, y’all. Shee loves the Laawrd, preciousss.

However I adore their version (of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly) just not their usage of it. May it be utilized without sentimentality, but with substance and experience. Yes.

And that is how I feel about this another. She leaves for Chicago for good, soon. Thus, this project is partially out of my grief of her impending physical absence as well as my hope to someday live near her again. Thank you Morg for participating in this quasi-grueling task of writing with your mouth.

I performed something like this in my 6 week Lenten piece at my grad school awhile back:

Performance piece #5–This one is one of my favorites and I hope to recreate it on a much grander scale.

After confessing, what does one endure? Disbelief, unbelief, wanting to believe that Love is breaking in, sacrificing, and holding our broken selves.

To verbally say, “I want to believe. Help me in my disbelief, unbelief. Now I believe” is far too easily said by the Church. I, too, have expressed my quickness in belief without undergoing the heartache and painfully beautiful experience of waiting, requesting help, and suffering while treading the waters of faith.

Thus, I thought writing my words with my mouth gave me the opportunity to fully sense the meaning of needing help, of waning in energy to believe, and sorely revealing my disbelief, unbelief…

I was in one sense self-imposing disability and in another sense desperately wanting to feel the weight of these words. Do I really mean them?

Speech is often highly esteemed in our culture. It reveals status, personhood, education, geography, respectability, dogma, etc. It allows for one to assess and qualify and deem this or that. Consequently, I veered from speaking, whereas writing left some ambiguity, halted the hastiness of easy critique and is where I currently feel comfortable and in tune to my being.

But, then what does it mean to see compulsive, childish, naïve writing of wavering faith? Does judgment occur as well? Or is curiosity aroused? Will one wonder the journey of expressing these words? It appears simple and dismissible, however if one saw how it got to the paper, grueling and tiresomely–one might re-think or re-evaluate her or his judgments.

So I wrote for about 20 minutes with my mouth. Over and over. Saliva slipped out. My breathing was more audible. My knees pained me.

I wondered if this was faith–grotesque, bold, passionate, honest, and bodily?

This newer rendition was of similar sensibilities, although it was at a conference called Inhabit, which embodied and expounded upon three things: practice, presence, place.

I became curious about what it means to be present in a particular place while practicing something that reflects both presence and place. Moreover, the act of writing with your mouth singularly engenders presence and how much more if we were to write what we saw around us, the place we found ourselves in–practicing seeing and denoting the particularities of the locale whilst being in an awkward, alienating, lowly posture. So, that we did.

(I must say I was most dismayed by the lack of engagement from anyone around us. At a certain point I was “in the way” while a (white) guy kept asserting his social justice intentions and ideals to a few other folk, meanwhile I’m clearly attempting to go around the paper perimeter, yet he refused to move even after I gently nudged him. There was plenty room, I wish that was the reason though. Sometimes I think white people are far too narcissistic to see what’s around them (me), wherefore we sulk and soothe over theories, ideas, and language, rather than being in and with the flesh and blood; water and spirit.)



Filed under Anger, art, beauty, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Performance Art: do you see what I see, help me in my unbelief

  1. Joshua

    I love this. Thanks for doing it and for enduring the folks who weren’t paying attention.

  2. thanks Joshua…miss you fool.

  3. morgan

    I can’t believe you did that whole thing with your hands behind your back. ouchie mama.

    And, move to Chicago.

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