American Realness

300 Words on Realness: Out of and Into (8/8): STUFF

300 Words on Realness: Out of and Into (8/8): STUFF

by Lydia Mokdessi
Published on: January 14, 2014

Out of and Into (8/8): STUFF opens with Moriah Evans and Sarah Beth Percival pacing in opposite pathways around the perimeter of a white square, narrowly missing collisions with each other on the diagonals. Heads sink to sternums and they gradually droop forward while marching, fingernails eventually grazing the floor. Soon they are on all fours. One coughs and they snap their heads to stare at each other, smiling. They burst into action, slamming / sweeping / swinging their body parts across the floor and meeting up nose-to-nose, pumping their navels towards the floor with yelps of “1-2-3-4 pine-ap-ple pine-ap-ple head-butt-ribs!”

They leap to their feet and scream at top volume, now sprinting their angular route. Their cries range from piercing screeches to guttural growling with one solitary “ayayayay!” war cry. This episode is startling then overwhelming then funny then annoying and then we are kind of jealous; it feels incongruous to sit and watch politely while Evans and Percival abandon decorum for primal release.

They collapse pathetically to the ground and catch their breath before returning to locomotion with a strain-y, effortful floor pattern. They work at the edge of flexibility, distorting into alien shapes while inching aimlessly along. It’s not always clear which body parts are bearing weight as torsos are twisted and limbs held aloft. It is always extreme and sometimes veers towards anguished — unlike circus contortionists, their faces show discomfort. We gasp when the landing of one’s butt narrowly misses the other’s head and when necks are forced into precarious postures.

The movement language feels purposeful; it’s not smoke and mirrors, we believe that they are working to capacity. But the most memorable aspect for me is the question of their relationship: they are twinned in some way, but doppelgängers? Adversaries? Partners? Two halves of one? Maybe, like a real-life intimate relationship, they are all of the above.

image: Ian Douglas