Written by Fatimah Ibidunni
All about the performance that left the audience shook this Thursday evening.
Erica Gressman’s premiere performance was nothing short of a rollercoaster of an experience. From emotions of anticipation at the beginning of the performance to grappling with discomfort through the disassembly of the limbs, I felt like I was on the journey with the artist.
At the start of the performance, there was the initial anticipation and confusion that settled when seeing this being in the middle of the metal stage. There was music playing, but as the being stumbled around becoming more and more it became evident that the sounds that should be focused on were the distress of accepting one’s identity.
The performance continues. The discomfort grows larger. I go from confusion to an uncomfortable understanding. The being continues to battle themselves. Throwing their body around, picking apart the extra limbs, and slowing revealing what is inside. I can’t help but compare what is happening when one is battling their inner selves when living in the world today where there is an abundance of opinions and criticisms. Not to mention the constant access to information and social media. There is a stress created when you want to fit into the mold but you become entangled and lost in the process. I have been in the place that was being depicted by the artist and I loved being able to relate to the performance in that way.
At the end of the performance, the artist releases herself from the harness and what is at the core is revealed. This part of the performance that left me somewhat in awe. After the discomfort and distress that went on in the performance, the artist comes to shed the external layers and what is left is raw darkness. The lights go off. I do not think this piece is depicting acceptance at the end of the performance. I think it is showing that the mask did not change what was inside.
I enjoyed that Erica was able to create such a thought-provoking performance. I would love to see the performance again and engage in discussions on others interpretations of the performance.