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Almanac 2016: Jessi T Walsh (Chicago, United States)

Almanac 2016: Jessi T Walsh (Chicago, United States)

Botanical Performance Suite, Rosekill, NY, 2015
CARBON HUNGER, with Poppy Jackson (UK) Doused in honey in a chicken shack, the two sit on tree stumps and eat an entire tabletop full of charcoal. Poppy Jackson: Photographer: Jamie Morgan I HAVE IMPURE SEXTS A meditation on the preposterousness of the fertility process. The fertile body’s invitation: “You have permission to touch my body” incanted a hundred times in a teeming field, many hands rub a translucent white fluid onto skin which seed-banks the reproductive organs of medicinal plants and waist-high grasses on the fertile body. A bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota), known as an herbal contraceptive and abortifacient, slowly grows from the vagina. Running fully engorged, the fertile body makes her way from the field to the roof with a string of participating audience close behind her like a snake of pearls. Photographer: Rae Goodwin

Production History:
Rosekill Residency c/o Grace Exhibition Space (NYC), GRAFT Gallery (ABQ), Berlin Art Studio (DE), Defibrillator Performance Art Space (CHI), Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (UK), Hyde Park At Center (CHI), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Prop Thtr (CHI), Columbia College Chicago


Artistic Statement:
Jessi T Walsh is an interdisciplinary artist and educator with a background in biological sciences. My performance work investigates the risk-trust partnership between artist and audience. I directly engage my audience in sensory actions between bodies to make gestural performance experiments, oftentimes using edible or fragrant materials and medicinal plants. Through structured improvisations in touch, adornment, flora, generosity, and consent, we build the work together to sweep the audience from the experience of stranger-spectator into the role of participant-artist. Be it a peepshow in a hole in the ground as deep as I am tall, or a grand silver-leafed performance installation embracing the landscape as it shifts over time, these works move past site-specificity into site-responsiveness. With the generous gift of participation from my audience, I can better understand more than what my work is, but what my work does, as actions and narratives grow between bodies in elemental and constructed landscapes. What is our sense of togetherness, collaboration, in a non-hierarchical, shared, improvised moment? How does the artist create a safe, investigatory space with her audience? What happens when one cannot know what will happen?






Photo by: Jamie Morgan / Rae Goodwin

This post is part of a series of profiles on performance and performance makers from this year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2016, an overview of contemporary performance presented during the 2014/2015 season available for touring now. If you would like to be apart of next year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2017, you can join the project here. 


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These posts are not affiliated with Contemporary Performance Network, but are of interest to our community. We post these with the caveat to check the sources and research the opportunities or views expressed in the posts.

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