by Lital Dotan
Daily Routine. I always thought I lack time. Now that I’ve been self-quarantining for almost 2 months I can clearly see how my perception of time changes as the days go by. The first few weeks I just surrendered, I paused. This was not a productive time. A combination of awe by the magnitude of this force that took over the world, fear for the lives of my loved ones, grief for what the future might look like – all tangled in the financial struggles this situation brought; the disaster forms and applications I fill every day weigh in this absurd administrative aspect of the disaster. What saved me is my daily routine, which is a major part of my artistic practice over the past decade. ** 8am practicing yoga, 10am daily transformation, 12pm opening the door, 2pm Slowing in time, 4pm Hovering at low altitude, 6pm Writing on the mattress, 8pm Couch potato ** This practice helps me make sense in all that uncarved chunk of time I had on my hands. Time now gradually dissolves into small fragments of creative actions, it has a rhythm, it loops, it can breath.
Resisting going virtual. I’ve been fearing how social distancing would affect performance art on the long run. Seeing how major institutions begin offering online or virtual access to programming – exhibitions, concerts, operas – continue online. There’s even a “Social Distancing Festival” now. At first I was thinking – how can performance art address this, how can it overcome the barrier of no audiences? I then looked at my wall, a line extracted from Jacques Ranciere’s ‘The Emancipated Spectator’ greeted me with the answer – it should seize for now. I believe performance art should not attempt to bypass the need of physical audience. To put it in his words:
“The evil consists in the separation between the stage and the audience, between performance of the bodies on stage and the passivity of the spectators”.
Separation is the enemy of performance. I know it from my own brutal experience. So in a call to all my peers – it is ok to stop performing for a month or two, for as long as it takes, we can focus on other aspects of practice – reading, writing, mental and physical practice – just don’t give up on attending audience. Don’t try to take your next performance online. Physical bodies are the oxygen of performance art.
I’ll trade a million online views for seeing your breath on my window. I’m lucky in the sense with building Glasshouse we’ve been preparing for this domestic confinement for the past 13 years. The circumstances were different obviously. Glasshouse was our response to the art as market, industry, commodity, a response to the emptiness “professional” art politics promoted. We self quarantined our art to seek a deeper practice and the potential to be personal and touch lives through performance. When we relocated Glasshouse upstate into an 1850’s farmhouse we knew it might involve less people but hoped for more meaningful encounters. This month, after a few weeks of complete surrender we launched Thursdays – a series of window performances for a single household audience – designed for our times. We’ve created numerous window performances since 2010, each version approached the window differently, suggested it serves as a different offering. Although a window would separate us I’m celebrating not giving up on being personal. I’ll trade a million online views for seeing your breath on my window. I’ll be window performing every Thursday night until we’ll be allowed to open the door and greet you.
Lital Dotan is an interdisciplinary artist, a recipient of a 2017 Brooklyn Arts Council award. Her works were exhibited internationally in venues such as the Israel Museum, National Museum Krakow, Queens Museum, The Kitchen NY among others and featured in magazines such as NY Times, Hyperallergic, NY Mag, Huffington Post, TAR Magazine and more. In 2010 she was invited to be an artist in residence at the Marina Abramovic Institute West in San-Francisco. She is the co-founder of Glasshouse art-house in Brooklyn and founder of Quesalmah performance-fashion brand. You can follower her on IG @dotanlital, Facebook ,visit her website and learn more about the Glasshouse project.