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Queen, a performance art movie

Queen, a performance art movie (2014), roughcut from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

(Constructed of: soil, eggshells, cotton, nylon, makeup, acrylic, acrylic latex, egg cartons, rice

paper, freshwater pearls, water, Jojoba oil, porcelain cup, tape, felt, craft paper, light, human, bamboo.)

This piece – and it is truly, I think, a “performance piece” – has been forming itself for about a year. Although I did not rehearse, it is so structured from beat-to-beat/ritual-to-ritual, and so designed, that I hoped happy accidents like dark makeup staining the white clothes, drapes and paper would add some dimensionality. In a way, planning an improvisation for a year is rehearsal, as one considers how and what happy or unhappy accidents might happen.

That creates a potential for theatricality – i.e., live dramatic risk-taking. That is why I set up a camera to shoot the entire process, to witness it as a live audience might.

However, this is video and I am a cinematic storyteller. That is why I set up a second camera to capture the rawness of unrehearsed action and show the spontaneous facial and physical reactions to those unrehearsed actions.

In the double recording of the performance, I have stumbled upon something that I have never even considered trying to do before, even though it is so obvious for me, a solo filmmaker with many years of experience performing solo theater. I have “married” theater and cinema – a new ritual.

It is such a uniquely human experience to be surprised by the obvious.

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble bigartgroup.com and network, blog, and publisher, contemporaryperformance.com. He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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