Sunday, May 29, 2011
Preparing for my first performance art piece!
(Above: Antique, claw-footed porcelain bathtub in Tapps Center for the Arts window on Main Street!)
I've had this hair-brained idea for quite some time. It kept coming into my mind every time I'd wash my dissected artificial cemetery flowers in the guest bathroom tub. I'd envision all my favorite Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Ophelia ...
...especially this one by John Everett Millais (1851-52) ... which I've seen in London's Tate ...
... which depicts Elizabeth Siddal as Ophelia. She had flaming red hair ... like the image above, Beata Beatrice, by her husband Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Or, I'd envision Jane Morris, the "muse"/model that embodied the ideal for feminine beauty for so many other Pre-Raphelite influenced artists ....
BUT WITH A 21st CENTURY TWIST!
Finally, I had to explore this crazy idea, and it has become my first performance art piece! The opening of OPHELIA, a tableaux at the Tapps Center for the Arts will be this coming Thursday at 5:30.
Preparations meant renting an antique, claw-footed bathtub and hauling it to the Tapps Building. I could never have done this alone! They weigh a ton and had to be carried sideways to fit through a 27" doorway. Fortunately, I had LOTS OF HELP!
Yesterday I hung theater curtains ... which will be pulled back at 5:30 to reveal me ... as a drowned red head (wig coming from eBay shop in Seattle ... but I also have three cans of auburn temporary hair coloring spraying from a theater supplier in Atlanta) ... posing as Ophelia covered in heaps of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters ... until approximately 8 PM.
In front of the curtains I've installed signage and a fake skull of Hamlet's. This project is also important to me because I'm collaborating with two other talented artists. Heather Bauer will be photographing a "dress rehearsal" on Tuesday afternoon. She'll have a large print for me to frame before Thursday ... so ... after the "live"/"dead" tableaux, I'll hang the framed image above the tub of flowers. Currently there's a very large mirror suspended above the tub so that viewers will have two views to the "scene of the crime".
Why do I call it a "crime" ... well ... especially during era of the Pre-Raphelites, suicide was considered a very serious crime. (Elizabeth Siddal overdosed on laudandum and might have even left a suicide note. The story goes that her husband knew to destroy it so that she could have a Christian burial.) Ophelia's death/assumed suicide has been praised as one of the most poetically written death scenes in literature. So ... Michael Krajewski, a local graffiti-inspired artist will be creating the suicide note .... "I LOVE YOU, HAMLET", in big red letters with other graphics, on the wall behind the tub.
Finally, I knew that I would need some make-up for this depiction. It's going to be hard enough laying perfectly still for two-and-a-half hours ... but trying to look like a dead teenager at age 52 is even more problematic. I haven't owned a single cosmetic product since getting my bifocals about eight years ago. I remember trying to apply mascara with my glasses on ... finally able to SEE the eyelashes. In frustration and with the realization that it took twice as long to look half as good ... I tossed the entire drawer away. Last night, after attending a beautiful wedding dressed in a lovely hot pink Indian dress from my sister and her husband (complete with shoes!), I went to Dilliards Department store. Amber Valentine (perfect name!) at Clinique applied EIGHT products that I now own. The photo above doesn't do her work justice ... but I'm hoping her instructions will make a difference on Thursday!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 9:35 AM