Museum of Nonconformist Art. St. Petersburg (RU). 2016
Walking into Forgetting is a performance lecture experiment in which my text 'Forgetting as Activism' is presented in tandem with a reading and retelling of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
The piece begins with a performer in the role of the lecturer, embodied split in two forms - the physical or actual (lying on the ground at the museum entrance) and the virtual (video image projection at the lecture site). The lecture begins with an image and text presentation of ‘Forgetting as Activism’ at the site, followed by an audio reading of Plato’s Cave that is projected into the space, with all revealing signifiers removed from the text. The lecture site becomes a living metaphor for Plato’s cave, its imaginary structures and unspoken laws, and the essential dilemma of freedom. The performer in the image convulses, collapses and disappears. There is a technical glitch. Audience are left uncertain as to what is going on, while the audio projection continues, as if to suggest to them that the piece is not yet over. The physical counterpart of the virtual performer slowly crawls from the museum entrance into the lecture site, on her back, with eyes still closed. Eventually joined by invisible performers who are anonymous among unsuspecting audience, she de- and re-constructs the actual and symbolic structures of the site. The performers activate the site, moving through it, over it, under it, into and beneath the chairs, knocking them down, rearranging them with and without people seated on them. Using the body and not words, they subvert common modes of meaning production—violence becomes love, falling becomes floating, bodies seem to touch and collide but do not, destruction becomes creation, chaos becomes harmony.
The piece ends with the final question of Plato’s cave - would the prisoners kill the liberated one who returned to try to awaken them? I choose to leave this open ended. We often have an idea that if we liberate someone we are doing something good for them, but with freedom comes responsibility, fear and uncertainty, and this is not always desired, even if it brings one into truth. Many would knowingly (and perhaps wisely) choose the illusion. Where does this leave us?
Performers: Vitaly Kim, Alena Chiklina, Katarina Maran
Voice: Yaroslava Zakharova