Impervious Intimacy  (2018), performance at  Performance Art Week Aotearoa .

Impervious Intimacy (2018), performance at Performance Art Week Aotearoa.

Impervious Intimacy (2018) is a 1:1 piece that can include ordinary, non-ordinary, and silent conversation. The difference: there’s a glass wall between you and your conversation partner. This piece seeks to make manifest the invisible distance, the sanitary shield, the arms-distance mask we sometimes hold with people, even those most intimate, in our lives. It’s that sense of wanting intimacy, sensing it so close, but somehow still feeling a vaporous chasm between one another. Having an embodied experience of this shield in conversation, we ‘see’ what this feels like. And possibly discover… What do we get out of the shield? Do we like it? Do we want to crack it? Do we really want to see and be seen?

Your conversation partner may be Caitlyn, your gallery comrade, or perhaps a stranger (it’s your choice). The work begins when you sit on the seat in front of the glass and ends when you leave. It lasts as long as you like. There is no obligation to speak. There’s no obligation to do anything.

Impervious Intimacy  (2018), performance at  Performance Art Week Aotearoa .

Impervious Intimacy (2018), performance at Performance Art Week Aotearoa.

I had a conversation with you. I came close. Not to your skin—to your you. There was a moment where something seemed to crack and I thought I got beyond the sanitary shield, the corrected and approved mask. To see you spontaneous. Now. Alive. The intimacy of the moment passed like an unreached orgasm, or a seized rollercoaster, mid-ride. Somehow there was something still between us. An invisible distance. A thin space of zero gravity. I want to see you. I want to see you. I want to see YOU. Will you let me see you?

Impervious Intimacy  (2018), performance at  Performance Art Week Aotearoa .

Impervious Intimacy (2018), performance at Performance Art Week Aotearoa.

Reflections behind the screen

I sat behind a 1x1.5m piece of glass and spoke to random people for two days. This is what it felt like to participate in Impervious Intimacy

Firstly, the glass — what we keep between us — was interpreted as…

 Fear

Beliefs and judgments

Safety

A jail cell

A stage

A mirror, reflecting ourselves

A phone screen

Instagram

A literal space being held, a frame in which to speak, to share something.

The inner world manifest in the outer world

The invisible made manifest

A device for which intimacy could take place, undisturbed within the frame.

 And lots more…

 And then there was the EXPERIENCE and the unexpected ‘aha’ moments that emerged:

 // There was a moment when someone started crying (two people, actually) and I so struggled. I wanted to reach out, but was stuck. My humanity was bound by the guard.

 // The glass is frustrating. And stupid. Why do we have to have this stupid glass between us?

// The glass muffles sound. It sucks in my delicate expression and softly spoken words. There are less options for how I can be. Less freedom. I have to exert myself to be heard rather than allow myself to express how I want to.

// It feels a bit like a meeting room in a jail where inmates get to speak to those who are free. I feel like an inmate behind this glass.

// It’s two dimensional, framed. I feel stuck, looking in a certain direction, literally in a box. There is no organic freedom. Just a frame to work within.

 // How would a kid react to sitting on one side of the glass? Would they put their fingers all over it, make it messy and make it a game? Why do adults hold back and behave the way we do behind the glass?

// The wind wobbled the glass. Nature wobbles our gaurds. To me, emotion is like nature — it wobbles our perfectly composed frames and fences and forces us to reckon with raw feeling and authenticity.

 // The glass also acted as a frame for intimacy. I had such amazing conversations with total strangers, ones that lasted much longer than a standard casual meeting. The frame of glass somehow gave license for more intimacy, more time spent, less distractions.

 // Depending on the sunlight, my face was sometimes reflected in the glass. I saw their face and my face at the same time.

 // The glass also felt like a mask. A two-dimensional picture to see and be seen.

 // The glass seemed like the glass of a phonescreen. I felt I was watching someone through a platform like IG or something.  

// I loved when the person’s humanity would accidentally extend beyond the frame. They’d cross their legs and their extended foot would reach over the edge of the glass. I’d see their foot — for real. It felt very special. Intimate. Also because it was accidental and not a manicured show. 

// It felt sort of unsexual. There was no three-dimensioniality — how could I make love to a screen? I need flesh to touch, roundness to press into, shapes to fit in and around. A flat screen blunted the sparks of my sexuality.

// One of the participants talked about the Japanese saying a person has three selves: the one they show society, the one they show their friends and family and the one they show themselves. I wondered which one I was getting. And giving.

// One time, two people sat on one side of the glass. I was one side, they were on the other together. I felt like an outsider. What’s keeping us separate and them together? Do they believe the same thing and I don’t? I felt alone and bored by the alienation. I didn’t want to participate. Then we swapped places and I was part of the pair and there was a single participant on the other side. I was now ‘in’. I had a friend. The solo participant looked so alone. They looked and confused. They said they felt on show. Exposed. I think this is how outsiders feel.

Impervious Intimacy  (2018), performance at  Performance Art Week Aotearoa .

Impervious Intimacy (2018), performance at Performance Art Week Aotearoa.

 For more information about Performance Art Week Aotearoa, click here.