Multi Channel Video/Performance
commissioned by "Raised the Red Lantern"
W2 Media and Culture Lab
Vancouver February 2011
“love” is an opportunity to contemplate aspects of what
we call 'love': poetically, historically, emotionally and
biochemically. The piece also reveals how quick we are
to submit to the deep witnessing inherent in being 'in love',
and how this intense feeling can be completely
manufactured and dissolved within seconds.
With the first strains of music, the artist enters, connects
with the audience as a whole. Eventually a video poem
begins,projected on one or two walls. Lesley, equipped
with an independent light source (preferably a large
beeswax candle which also provides an olfactory experience) she scans the audience, chooses her first subject and approaches them. If the piece takes place in a theatre, the artist may climb over other audience members.
Individual interactions are semi-improvised The prepared activity includes connecting eye-to-eye with the subject at very close physical range. Once their ‘social mask’ dissolves, Lesley, now extremely close to the subject, whispers in their ear a phrase infused with love and sexual energy. The phrase is chosen from a list extracted from romantic Hollywood movies. “I am someone else when I'm with you, someone more like myself.” “Swoon. I’ll catch you.” “If I tell you that I love you can I keep you forever?”.
Such close physical connection results in a rush of biochemicals that stimulates a variety of thoughts and feelings, including sexual arousal, emotional bonding and intense primal fear resulting from the invasion of one's personal space. After a few seconds the Lesley slowly pulls away and reconnects with the participant visually. In that moment she witnesses their state and they engage in a very private communication unique to their “union”.
Simultaneous to this the rest of the audience watch either the video or the connections and experience multiple modes of feeling and thought: some desiring the attention, some terrified of being singled out, curiosity as to what Lesley is saying, amusement at the video and/or contemplation of their state of ‘relationship’.