Friday, 28 June 2013
Blog Response by Sampada Aranke, PhD Candidate, UC Davis Performance Studies
Truthfully, I didn’t go to the performance gallery expecting to see HONEY. But it captured me. As I walked through the performance gallery courtyard on Friday night, I noticed a tall, black tripod structure towering over a woman. As I walked toward her, I noticed a glistening golden trail leading from the top of the black structure towards her face. It was excessive, extravagant, velvet, and moving like sand through an hourglass — slow, layered, purposeful, directive. Honey. Honey slithering down a wire catching the evening light with it’s fleshly materiality. Atop the structure crouched a man, white wearing all black. He poured the nectar from above. She stood underneath, wearing a garment made of what looked like a white tarpy vinyl, and caught the honey in her mouth. Tediously keeping her mouth open, she writhed from ease to discomfort, joy to crazed fear. Fear of choking on honey. What a luxurious murder.
Fila and Tolentino’s collaboration offers a meditation on durational encounters and tedious modes of consumption. Devouring or overflowing with honey with her head cocked back, Fila’s mouth functions as a tireless receiver, which leads us to a broader commentary on the relationship between the female body as a figure for gendered reproductive labor, whose excessive value is overdetermined by the gaping hole which acts like a conduit for the world. Tolentino, on the other hand, plays it cool while he determines the levels of honey-expulsion based on how he might feel or what kind of mood he may be in. The verticality of his figure about Fila forces us to consider the place of force in this performative experiment on slow death. What does it mean to be killed from above, with your mouth wide-open and seemingly accepting? What does it mean to be killed with the excessive fleshly texture of golden honey in such dark financial times? Fila and Tolentino remarkably entrance us as we watch this slow death, and I ask myself: Could I manage dying under the weight of honey?