More on HARDCORPS Theater of Operation

Further notes on Heather Cassils in the THEATER OF OPERATION program at CPR on 6/4…

The other artists in the evening’s program all grappled with control over digital systems—be it Madonna on youtube or wearable video monitors. Cassils’ performance was the last of five in the evening, and a piece of rickety scaffolding was wheeled out as the only preparation (a marked change from the technical equipment employed by the other artists). For about ten minutes, Cassils flexed? (I’m not completely sure of the right verb), slowly changing positions. Cassils is a body-builder, so watching her in a bikini felt, for me, uncomfortably voyeuristic in a refreshing way.

Although the territory of how bodies interact with technology is certainly rich and worthy of exploration, there is something incredibly refreshing about “just” a body. By employing her body as an artistic instrument, Cassils is not just gesturing at systems of control, but constructing them. (Or maybe referencing them, since bodybuilding has a distinct history, culture, and set of practices.)

In the HARDCORPS mission statement, the curators say that performance can “extricate the power of rigorous disciplines and vigorous ideas.” I agree that this is performance’s most profound potential—and yet I find that this field is constantly defending its rigor as much as celebrating it. Thank you, Cassils, for reminding me that the best performance doesn’t show, it does.

–Lydia, Spring Festival 2010 Blogger

Lydia Bell is a dance artist, teacher, and administrator based in Ridgewood, Queens. lydiabell.wordpress.com

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