BY MY OWN HAND by Allie Hankins (Portland)
POSTPONED| Performance Works NW
By My Own Hand is comprised of a series of five performances, a zine of poems and illustrations, and an album of “field recordings.” By My Own Hand (a title with connotations of suicide, manipulation, and self-reliance), centers deconstruction and destruction as a mode of meaning-making. Toying with the perceived power of the systems we use to define ourselves, such as astrology, psychotherapy, and dream interpretation, the work is a multi-tentacled examination of the inherent futility of upholding a fixed persona in life, and the dark necessity of “killing” our past selves in our endless quest for reinvention or “betterment.” The live performance leverages the performer/audience relationship as an allegory for questioning attempts we make at containment; at naming; at establishing lines and boundaries, and the problem of being within and self-reflexive of the systems of meaning we create and the categories to which we belong. I offer my audience a handful of tools to decipher my role or authenticity as a performer, guide, truth-teller, or ally. I utilize “choose-your-own-adventure” style audience engagement, but how much is actually in their power? What secret am I withholding? As I research the movement vocabulary, I wonder how melody, nostalgia, and sentimentality contaminate movement exploration–what residue does it leave? And how do I move it around?
Throughout the piece, four audio tape recorders record aural moments from the piece (such as footfalls, singing, a squeaky floor, the audience’s response), and these recordings are played back, recorded over, and played back again. The recurring sounds get paired with new actions, creating an ever-evolving soundtrack, which layers and distorts the audience’s associations and experience of time and memory. These audio recordings (which I’m calling “field recordings”) are also being used to create an aural component (a record or tape or digital file) to be released separately from the live show. Echoes and reverberations of past performances, rehearsals, experiments–all of which were vital in creating the live performance–can be listened to in their “disembodied” state after or before the live performance. The album is an excavation; the performance’s shadow or ghost. My ghost.