(a statement by Sierra Ortega about Statement #3)
[I wanted to write something great for you
It’s what I thought you expected.
But I’m giving you this instead.]
10 Unexpected Observations from OVERSTATEMENT/OVERSTEINUNN
My Steinunn Statement
- I found my seat that night in a comfortable spot on the third row. Perfect view. They walked into the theatre at the last minute that would have been considered early. They sat behind me, chattering. With seemingly, no regard for my eavesdropping ears. His ex was sleeping on her couch. She had just left rehab. Heroin. It was drama. We can never know their full expectations for Steinunn’s performance that evening. However, a gasp from one and a frantically whispered “I feel like I shouldn’t be looking” from the other let me know that they didn’t expect her nudity.
- Steinunn looked fearless (re: free) in that moment. Sitting in that chair and confronting the audience. Daring them to look. But not caring much if they did. And then a “warm welcome” in deadpan. The audience laughed. The only thing you can do when even your subconscious expectations are subverted.
- Barely five minutes in and the credits roll. Her name flashing across the screen. Steinunn Ketilsdóttir. Again and again. A reminder of the labor necessary for performance. A reminder that this is hers. Her body. Her mind. She has graciously offered those of us in the audience access.
- Dixon Place was created to host the work-in-progress, the experimental, the weird, the unexpected. The perfect venue for Steinunn’s hybrid anti-spectacle. Her subversion of expectation becomes the expectation. So at every moment she must subvert the subversion. Experimentation leads to fracture. Like light reflecting off a disco ball.
- She shimmered while she danced. The sequins of her shirt enacting the collective delirium of her movement. But eventually she was exhausted and moved slower –undulating underneath the bright stage lights. André Lepecki (via Alexander Weheliye) has claimed that individual subjectivity emerges through the kinetic freedom of the flesh. In her movements she becomes and we become with her.
- She reads us an artist statement. Poetry, according to the couple behind me. Poems of repetition. Of excess. It’s pornographic. Fleshy and flowing. “Transgressing the boundaries establishing difference (Lynn Hunt)”. Verbal exhaustion. Mental exhaustion. But never a climax. Her words rise and fall and fade. It leaves me shivering. Wanting. Desiring.
- And then she becomes a Midas. Turning herself into a golden idol. Never asking for our devotion but performing the action that we will undoubtedly praise her with. Teaching us applause. She is a thoughtful goddess.
- We stare at her as she stares at her staring at us. An eternal mirror. Reflecting itself back into eternity. Collapsing distinction between audience and performer. The theatre became a palace of intimacies that evening.
- In short, Steinunn is never expected. And always expected. She is the subversion. The irony. She is serious. Droll. Intense. Sexy. Plain. Frantic. Calm. Present. Transcendent. Rhizomatic.
- “The rhizome is reducible to neither the One or the multiple. It is not the One that becomes Two…It is not a multiple derived from the one…It is comprised not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle from which it grows and which it overspills…having neither subject nor object…it necessarily changes in nature…undergoes a metamorphosis…[it] is made only of lines…the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detatchable, connectable, reversable, modifiable, and has multiple entranceways and exits and its own lines of flight” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 21).
Sierra Ortega, 7/15/16
Sierra Ortega is an emerging multidisciplinary performance artist and scholar living and working in Brooklyn, NY. In May 2016 she graduated with an MA in performance studies from New York University and in 2015 received an MA in rhetorical studies from Hofstra University. She is currently teaching and researching at the City University of New York. Utilizing her background in performance, speculative philosophy, and queer and feminist politics, Sierra has come to develop an artist/scholar practice that is deeply personal, constantly chaotic, and furiously DIY. Her work is often one of reappropriation –creating new contexts from found objects and borrowed text. Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, the Center for Performance Research, The Hollows Artspace, The Bowery Poetry Club, and many other venues across the United States.
Check out Sierra’s website
(a statement by Ragnheiður Þorgrímsdóttir about Statement #5)