HARAKIRI: To Die For Performances at CentralTrak

by Betsy Lewis April 25, 2012

I tried X once; HARAKIRI is a lot like that but without the uncontrollable want of sex (okay, twice).

The opening night of HARAKIRI was the first in a series of consecutive Saturday nights featuring two hours of simultaneous performances, its theoretical pillar being hara-kiri, a Japanese ritual suicide requiring eyewitnesses (a definition simplified for brevity). Exploring ideas of isolation both physical and psychological, the performers stayed within restrictive, designated spaces, interacting at times with each other but never with the audience/gallery-goers.

HARAKIRI, night one, was a collaboration between installation artist Jill Foltz, scenic designer Tabitha Pease, performer George Quartz, and dancers from DGDG (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group), curated by CentralTrak resident, UTD Ph.D. student, writer-choreographer-go-getter Georgiou. (“Curated” is the official term, but I would say produced.) Collaboration is the operative word, since nothing is labeled or individually credited.

Three nymphets frolic around a ratty couch on a grass-topped island, brushing each other’s hair and staging mock pillow fights to the sound of a really loud monotone keyboard. Think back to the score of Eyes Wide Shut and you’ve got it.  The soundtrack was too loud for this little space, though, and it drove a lot of the early crowd back onto the street until collective anxiety gave way to curiosity.

There was a smaller island in the corner, where a hot guy in a tuxedo shirt was passed out in a chair, holding a bottle.  Half of his shirt was bloody pink and his head was bandaged. A stunning young woman in a tight metallic dress and wild red hair danced, crawled, writhed, and all the other good verbs, on and around the guy. They were spectacular together, even with him passed out, because this girl was a force of nature trying to stake her claim on the tiny island by consuming every part of it, especially its other inhabitant. Somewhere in The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell tells Bill Moyers that the god of death and the god of sex is the same god. Saw it here. 

Another corner was shielded by a transparent curtain with writing on the inside, and a performer was yelling poetically from the other side (I was hanging with the gods of sex and death, so I couldn’t catch the poet’s words over that damn keyboard noise).

The long hallway of the artists’ residency had a funky little light thing going on, with a dancer at the far end and performances inside several rooms. People weren’t venturing too close, unsure if they were supposed to participate and not wanting to get in the way.  I walked inside one of the spaces at Georgiou’s encouragement. I think I freaked the performer out. She did not acknowledge me. Two dudes hanging out in her room said she couldn’t interact with me (ah, yes, public solitude).

This is the confusing thing with performance art—how do you behave as an onlooker? Is it rude to talk to other onlookers? Is it wrong to talk to performers? Or to walk away? Or to interfere? Are we supposed to applaud?  Just what are the rules of gallery audience decorum? I do not know

HARAKIRI: To Die For Performances runs Saturdays through May 19th at CentralTrak in Dallas. All performances are free and open to the public.

SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCES (from 8pm-10pm each Saturday):

Sat. April 21: Jill Foltz, Tabitha Pease, George Quartz, and DGDG

Sat. April 28: Emily Loving, Slik Stockings, Val Curry, and Spencer Brown

Sat. May 5: Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet

Sat. May 12: Big Rig Dance Collective and local filmmakers

Sat. May 19: Michael Morris, Cody Ross, Andrew Blanton, and dancers

This blog is Don’t Look. Okay Look.

Betsy Lewis is a rock and an island and a writer in Dallas.


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Anne Bothwell April 26, 2012 - 10:21

Great piece Betsy. Jerome thinks so too. http://artandseek.net/2012/04/26/thursdays-roundup/

J R Compton May 26, 2012 - 13:28

For another view of this and the other, coinciding performance art series in Dallas, see our Recent History of Performance Art in Dallas series at http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/art-crit/Here_Lately/PerfArt/Performance_Art.html


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