Written by: Nora Guerrero
The Krannert Art Museum had the privilege of having Erica Gressman, artist, perform her piece “Limbs” for an audience much eager to watch and listen. At first sight, I thought the structure was a sculpture. It was not until I had a closer look that I could recognize that a human body was inside the costume. Was it one person? Or two? This was exactly what intrigued me from the start.
The room filled with many faces in awe, curious to see what would happen at the start of the performance. As time went on, the body suspended in mid-air began to transform. Sounds of violins and clanging of metal ensued as arms and legs moved. One could feel the intensity and vibration within each movement. Every move was intentional, and meaningful.
From my own interpretation, I felt that this was a metaphor for losing oneself. Through the releasing of the limbs, there was a release of support. Then the shedding of the costume was a shedding of oneself, and becoming a new one. At this point in time, I don’t think my eyes had shut at all that they began to sting. This is a performance you do not want to miss anything. Erica’s ability to use sound and light to enhance her performance is exceptional. Every structure is intentionally created for a purpose. The way that the metal structure was created speaks to the vulnerability of the piece itself. Entranced by her piece, I had forgotten about my worries, and about time. Nothing else mattered at that moment, except watching this complex and intricate performance.
Hearing the artist talk and answer questions about her piece brought more clarity and awe. This piece was transformative in the way that it captured one’s attention, and brought to life much of how many are feeling with loss, navigating a political climate of uncertainty and danger, and coping with the awareness of how it’s affecting others.
One does not often think of performance art as a way to cope, or to express one’s feelings, but if there is someone that has successfully executed that, it’s Erica Gressman.