Photography by Grace DuVal
It has only been over a week now since the opening celebration of Archive As Action and I still find myself in awe of all the festivities. It was incredibly heartwarming to see such excitement, curiosity and engagement on the face of every guest that ventured into the exhibition space. I sat back and watched the immense crowd continuously pour through the rainbow atrium doors throughout night and it was otherworldly to say the least.The space filled in what was more than likely a few seconds, if that. Typewriters roared and clacked, rainbow flags flew through the air. While flecks of color seeped from every shadow, catching your eye on nearly every surface. This room was truly alive.
However there is one moment that stands out to me the most. A moment where time seemed to freeze in its own tracks. It was here in this moment of connectivity between two artists, two friends. Lindsey Whittle and Molly Donnermeyer silenced the insatiable crowd.
(All information from here on out will be a retelling of the events through the eyes of AAC graduate Noel Maghathe and Molly's experience in the piece:
Thank you both for your time and words about your experience with/in this performance.)
So let's preface the performance with a little bit of information about the welded shapes. These objects are what I have come to understand, as a fairly vulnerable piece for Lindsey. Who took a plunge into new materials and also turned her process completely upside down for this piece to be able to manifest into what is now currently on display. Having Molly involved in not only the performance, but the manufacturing of them as well, seemed to be a major source of comfort.
The performance started off with Lindsey and Molly stripping down into colorful skins. The room was packed, but in that moment it was obvious that both artists were only focused on one another. The crowd observed in an almost trance like state as the large metal and mesh shapes were taken off the magnetic strips that keep them adhered to the wall. They promptly took turns placing the welded sculptures over each other's heads and shoulders. Placing their arms and legs into the large yellow and orange pieces, Molly says was almost "dare" like. As if they were testing each other as to how many they could carry. They began to balance the sculptures with the ones already intertwined on their bodies. And as Noel recalls, tried to dance in repetitive motions to free themselves of the objects.
Molly: "I began to think of this as a symbol for what we put our friends through, we add and add and then our friend can come by and take some of the weight off of us. It's a give and take."
Lindsey recalls a moment in which she put her arm out as a signal for Molly to interact, without having to use a single word. The crowd watched as both worked in sync to sketch out the many modes of communication that the welded shapes are capable of. It's apparent that this piece is not only a sketch of the physical but rather the art of body language as another form of communication and relation. So here I am asking myself; is this how I would converse with my own friends?
This performance was a test of friendship: A performance of trust, connection and questioning the boundaries of what a conversation can be. How do we use body language in our daily lives? How do subtle signals change depending on who's around to pick up on them?
Maybe this is the genuine shape of language.
Thank you again to Molly and Noel for providing excerpts on this performance
Grace DuVal for the breathtaking documentation of the event which can be viewed here
And to Lindsey, congratulations!
I'm beyond ecstatic to keep learning about this work