the target: performing solo
The theater goes black.
I am alone, standing downstage right.
Dim light and fragments of sound emerge out of the darkness and silence,
and I start to move slowly.
In that first moment between the audience and me,
a target forms inside of me,
a target living between my imagination
and the imaginations of the spectators.
To inhabit it fully, I devote myself to it.
All unrelated feelings, thoughts, memories, doubts,
fear and pain are dispersed.
I shoot forward
into the depths of the performance,
traveling, together with the audience,
towards the center of something.
A voice pulses with a raucous violin
and the angular, aggressive sound emanating from a roaring fire.
Their rhythms induce straight sharp lines of energy from me.
I feel like I am on the verge of losing control, of being consumed.
But I grasp hold of the rushing energy and focus it, give it form.
My energy is relentless, and feels inexhaustible.
When I lived in New York,
I would spend some of my weekends on Long Island at my parents’ house, in the forest, by the sea,
where it was completely silent and completely dark.
There, I rested.
Sunday evening, I would take the Long Island Railroad back into the city.
As the escalator took me up to 7th Avenue and 32nd Street from the train tracks of Penn Station,
adrenalin began to course through my body.
As I reached street level, colors and lights streaked by,
sounds circulated in an irregular, but persistent rhythm. I felt invigorated.
The repose of the weekend was over. I hailed a taxi, went home
and threw myself into my work the next day.
BELOW THE SURFACE
Bill Viola The Sleep of Reason
Grand Palais, Paris 2014
I walk into a well-lit room and sit down on the beige wall-to-wall carpeting.
In front of the central wall stands a wooden chest on which is a vase of artificial roses,
a lamp, a clock and a small monitor projecting the image of a sleeping woman.
The surrounding walls are white and empty. Just as I am getting used to this normal environment,
the room goes dark and the image of an attack dog jumps out at me
from three of the walls surrounding the chest.
A couple of seconds later it is gone, and the domestic calm is restored.
The woman continues her sleep, all seems fine and reasonable.
And then again, a violent darkness arrives, cutting through the seemingly suburban scene,
imposing an x-rayed image of a head whose mouth is opening as if to bite me.
And then again the well-lit room.
Fire roaring, threatening. Calm.
Wild pursuing movements through a dark forest. Calm.
Provoked animals. Calm. As I walk out of the room,
I feel the lurking darkness that lives below the surface of reason,
below the seeming order of daily life.