photo by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sleep and other banalities

The project I'm currently working on is about the banal things that make human life possible. The shortlist is based on personal experience and bias, but I venture that certain things are universal, like breathing, sleep, water and nourishment.
Sleep is researched more and more widely, and the results are shocking. Even acute sleep deprivation has an enormous averse effect on the human brain. I woke up to the negligence with which we treat the most important things, when I recreated an old performance on sleep in January. I started forming quite another perspective on the project, than what I initially had in Finland in 2001.
That night I had agreed on appearing in a small performance art event in Helsinki. I felt exhausted after the previous night's premiere. So I borrowed the idea of sleeping with the audience from a fellow student (she had hidden under a thick blanket and had audience members read books to her. As an explanation of this act of borrowing I'll offer that we all used to borrow ideas from each other all the time while studying. Isn't borrowing what is known as the biggest compliment?) I gathered the audience around me and spoke to them about sleeping, the rituals I employ when going to bed, and putting my son to bed, and about the childhood memories I have of being put to bed myself. During the process I fell asleep, and woke up a moment later in total silence with smiling people looking at me.
In January in the Subterranean Arthouse I had a rather different focus. I still fell asleep surrounded by the chamomile-tea-sipping audience - or rather was unable to fall asleep. But this time I became more and more conscious of the importance and simple necessity of sleeping, and the paradox of our way of life pushing sleep into the margin.
After the audience feedback I received, and the ensuing discussion, I decided I want to make a performance that addresses sleep, but also other every-day trivia that sustain life.
In addition I was seduced by the incomparable amount of shared, private and cultural implications these phenomena have. This is subject matter that lends itself easily to the way I like to work: creating shared experiences through physically sharing activities, time and location.

There are issues I need to address in this process, and my next blog will be my thoughts about the particularity versus universality of our basic needs.

"Life Sustenance" will premiere at the Subterranean Arthouse Friday June 4 at 8PM. Tickets through brownpapertickets.