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Colleen Culley


Part 3 with Kristi Spessard


The rice fell onto the cement floor for nearly 90 minutes before the show, forming a hill-like mound in the center of the room. The audience sat, stood and leaned around the mound. The solo dancer emerges from what could be called ‘the back’ of the room. Circling the rice as it continues to pour, as if to outline it, sanctify it.


This fifteen minute solo choreographed by D. Chase Angier and performed by Kristi Spessard was captivating and remarkable. When Spessard does enter the rice it is at once colloquial and ceremonial.


At first she is tender with her bed of rice, luxuriating in it as if it matters to her bringing a sensation of preciousness. Spessard designs and redesigns the rice. She pours the rice over her, like a shower or a nourishing indulgence. The rice passes over her and trickles through the pin-tucked ridges of her red (pink?) dress. Her limbs arc through the rice leaving trace forms of their journey like the topographical outlines of trails.


A deeply committed and dynamic performer, Spessard’s quality of tenderness dissolves into a powerful rage. Passionately absorbed in her swirling feelings the dancer whose inner world is clearly now on display. Rice is kicked, tossed, splattered, and flung through the room interrupting the comfortable distance viewers previously had. Now the rice and her experience enters the viewers experience; her tragedy has become part of their world.


As Spessard exits, walking off from where she entered, I sense she is done with this. She is leaving. The audience is left with the rice, offering traces and remnants of her presence.


Part 4 with Laurel Jay Carpenter


Entering the gallery was a note worthy experience in its own right. Truly entering another world, the space was mysterious and consuming, with its low light, corner projection, a pile of rice in the corner and a female figure whose eyes pierced into the corner scene.


The aire of this installation created by D. Chase Angier and durational performance by Laurel Jay Carpenter was an exhausted quiet whose weightiness of ether was highlighted by the music composed by John Laprade. As I took in the installation, my whole being responded and I could hardly hold my head up to its power. With the spaciousness of breath and Laurel Jay’s subtle shifts of weight, I felt I was confronting the solitude of my own humanness. The smell of the rice was ironically fresh and moldy. The throbbing projection felt like a horizon line and a finale, a sort of inviting stark warmth.


Other visitors milled about often leaning on the wall and sitting or lying on the floor as though needing more support. Not a single viewer interfered between Laurel Jay’s stare and the projection and rice pile. The set up conveyed that crossing this line was forbidden, as though wisdom of the ages was looking over its kingdom, her eyes burning into the horizon as if to protect it.


Laurel Jay performed a second day, another 5 hours. The rice lingered for 3 more days. Each day the volume of rice faded until it was gone. This installation lingers in my cells.

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