On Writing: An evening of allegorical tableaux

On Writing: An evening of allegorical tableaux
In conjunction with The 1st Amendment Festival
May 23, Hertz Hall, Central Washington University

Curatorial Statement

Performance art is inherently a hybrid cultural practice. From its inception in the 1970s, performance art has drawn practitioners from a variety of fine arts, including writing. The allegorical tableau is a fundamental device in performance art. In keeping with postmodernism’s engagement with appropriation the artists featured in ON WRITING have created tableaux which “quote” imagery from allegorical sources, creating resonant moments in time. The artists were encouraged to develop a site-specific frame with which to explore the theme of writing.  The artists have chosen venues in Hertz Hall that control the viewer’s access, viewing time and perspective. Through this dialog with writing we hope to showcase the inherent flexibility between artistic disciplines, and draw attention to the Writing Center, a valuable resource for the CWU community.

-    Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Department of Art
-    Katharine Whitcomb, Department of English

Project Statements
Vertical Ascension and Descension as a Biographical Metaphor (Norby, Pybon, Weed)
The elevator will be redesigned as a writing studio, and it will be used in this piece as a metaphor for the writing process.  In confining a writing studio to a claustrophobic elevator, it can be seen that the writing process can at times feel uncomfortable, and it doesn’t allow for many people to come close to the writer.  The writing process often feels very much like one is going up and down perpetually without ever truly getting anywhere.  In the process of emulating writers that did indeed get somewhere, this tableau intends to take a realistic stance on the solitary nature of a writer’s life.  

Untitled (surveyed) (hutchins, James, Nott)
The surveillance room on the 2nd floor of the Hertz Building is viewed only through an observation window.  The viewer’s narrow perspective alludes to an apathetic American citizenry who allow the rights promised in the Bill of Rights to be eroded by the Patriot Act. With subdued freedoms of press, assembly, privacy, and due process, a good citizen is expected to sacrifice these rights on the altar of democracy.  For those zealots who refuse to conform, a society is responsible to debate the consequences of the state-sanctioned censorship that follows.  Ask yourself, how much freedom you truly need?  Do you need to see your dog screwing the neighbor’s Dameranian and why doesn’t the government want you to?

On William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (Hollick, Lemmon, Nelson)
The courtyard is “open” yet surrounded by four walls—a paranoid human aquarium. The lowlifes, scumbags, and druggies are caught in the act of using, dying, soliciting, pushing. Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon” plays in the background. One girl, presumably a writer, sits quietly on a bench—part of the scene yet not included. On so many layers this tableau calls into question: who’s outside looking in? 
We ask the audience to consider the role of an artist/writer: a functioning outsider (judgmental or objective) or an insider that is thus excluded from societal acceptance, like the Beats and so many others.

Illicit (Ellis, Lane, Ritchie)
Using the women's restroom, including the hallway leading up to it, as the performance environment, Illicit invokes an image of the inherent social discord woven throughout adolescence. Depicting acts of a sexually explicit nature, the piece puts the viewer in direct contact with private events that commonly occur within an intimate, public space. By employing the environment of a public restroom, this performance subverts its intended use through the depiction of events that commonly occur within that space yet are not traditionally associated with it. The tableau is meant to challenge the social conventions of adolescence.

Words (Fortin, Jarboe, Martin)
We live in a society of words. Text-based information is more available today than it has ever been. How many of these words do we listen to? How much do we ignore? Do we pay any more attention to these words because they are more available? Or does the overabundance of information make words easier to ignore? Modes of information have changed rapidly over the past century. With the advent of the internet, printed text such as newspapers and books seem obsolete. Yet newspapers are still printed daily. Digital media has changed the way that information flows, making it much easier to attain and more widely available, begging the question, why do we cling to these outdated forms?