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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 Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.

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