“Feeling Myself” Performances #2


Thanks to friends who generously (and patiently!) shared two hours of their weekend to offer assistance and feedback, I was able to continue workshopping the performance piece at The Culver Steps and–a new location–the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. 

This time around, I also brought a pair of portable full length mirrors to see how incorporating a visibly larger mirror (as opposed to the large handheld mirror from before) would affect participants, bystanders, and the overall appearance of the piece. The wind threatened to knock the mirrors over on Day 1, which inspired me to experiment with holding the mirror myself and having others hold the mirror for me on Day 2. The act of holding something for someone, particularly something large and not meant to be held, really underscores one of the ideas I’m trying to explore in the piece: having Black women and non-Black women alike help a Black woman by doing a share of her work or task. And then there’s the sheer physicality involved (as opposed to propping the mirror against a surface, which I did on Day 1). 

Additionally: 

  • I didn’t include music this time around. But I did include a pair of my Amazon wireless lav mics, which really aren’t the *best* quality unfortunately (though they were inexpensive), but definitely better than relying on an iPhone’s internal mic alone. 
  • A very sweet Black woman security guard kindly informed us we couldn’t do the piece in front of The Culver Steps because it was private property and the mirrors were a safety hazard for kids, but suggested two spots a few meters away that were fair game. Good looking out!
  • I performed on Mother’s Day weekend, including the actual day, which was great, because a lot of people were out and about.

As for my next steps:

  • Speaking of physicality, I want to include even more bodily activity in the piece. My gut is telling me to wear/put the mirror(s) on my body and see what happens, though that’ll mean incorporating a portable step-ladder because otherwise most adults would need to stoop to see their reflections, or at least their faces. But I’m also thinking of echoing the participants and/or folding in some kind of call and response element…
  • I’m thinking of taking selfies in the mirror (an act considered vain and conceited, even though self-portraiture is an age-old art genre) as others hold the mirror and then printing out those selfies and making photo and video collages. And then also having Black women take selfies of themself as I hold the mirror, send the photos to me, and then collaging those too.
  • I forgot to interview the folks who were holding the mirror for me! I will definitely be doing that next time. Also, when they were holding the mirror, I noticed that my actions were rushed and apologetic, which (1) really took me out of the performance mentally and (2) brought up feelings of low self-confidence.
  • Bringing along a professional videographer! Having performed the piece several times and refined the thesis, I have a much better sense and idea of how I’d like to capture the performance for video. The ultimate goal is to share this video on social media (Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.) and begin compiling a body of work to show for my artistic practice as an emerging interdisciplinary artist. There are also a couple of contemporary performance artists who I’ve been getting to know and I’d love some feedback on the performances from them, too. 
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