Preston, Julieanna. water-logged [performance]. At Performance Arcade, Wellington Waterfront, NZ, 2-6 March 2016.
Her body bobs in the polished surface of soft undulating harbour waters. Ripples extending from her movement caress a field of seemingly stoic structural timbers holding up a false ground, a wharf, a man-made foreshore extension, an appropriation of a water’s edge easing access for the sake of leisure, travel and export.
Oh Eucalyptus marginata, squared shards of giant trunks felled and imported all the way from southwest Australian, where are your feet?
Tell me the tale of your immigration and the stories of your own saturated existence.
She navigates amongst the Jarrah piles, approaching them as strangers, non-human live matter, respecting their dignity, inspecting the accrual of vegetal growth wrapping their torsos as temporal memorials to tidal and seasonal fluctuations. Her attempts at mimicking the timber’s upright posture resemble overtures of empathetic reciprocity.
dangling from this plump volume,
a like breathing, digesting and regenerating organism,
have lost their footing.
The water and its salinity are thwarting my ability to be still let alone remain vertical.
This is not swimming; it is attentive floating, a phase change to gravity’s tendency to hold me down, grounded-ness.
A volley of crosscurrent conversation emerges in the shadows of a dank underworld shimmering with reflections of long white clouds agitated by swirls of disturbed sediment rising from the depths of seaweed enchantment.
On the sureness of shore, in a shipping container with its doors thrown open, a live stream projection translates such aqueous intercourse to witnesses, an audience. She rocks and so too does the projected image by virtue of a camera on her head.
I can’t maintain this, I give in, I’m going under, going down,
to catch my breath,
to gain strong legs, composure, to tread without touching the bottom.
Rising up amongst a gasp of expended oxygen, she settles face up in the liminal surface that the timber piles pry apart, an homage to the locked embrace that binds and separates Rangi and Papa.
The conversation between swimmer and piles persists as swells, ebbs and eddies- states of becoming familiar. Exhaustion is the measure of the performance’s duration, its cumulative effects having as much impact as the weather, the foot traffic above, and the desires to reach out and relate to an other.
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