Friday December 12, Issue Project Room, a performance space housed in a historic sandstone downtown Brooklyn building, will present “Heel Yourself,” a collaboration between artists Raúl De Nieves, Whitney Vangrin, and Sadaf H. Nava, as part of De Nieves’s artist-in-residence. I wrote the following text to accompany the performance:
People everywhere / A sense of expectation hanging in the air
There is no neutral surface, no neutral discourse, no neutral theme, no neutral form.
“Styles of Radical Will,” Susan Sontag
The gesture is to be without meaning, like language that is only noise. The body doesn’t ache or remember, it only does. There isn’t even paradox here, only a theatre of instincts and a poetics of experience. Art doesn’t have to point to things. I’m not sure my words make sense but I want you to swallow them and, if they get stuck in your throat, think about the difference between what heel and heal means.
For 41 minutes and 43 seconds, there will be structured chaos in a room that feels a bit like a church. Raúl De Nieves will simultaneously play 20 records of ABBA’s 1979 album Voulez-Vous on 20 turntables. Whitney Vangrin will move her body on a sheet of foam and a layer of salt. Sadaf H. Nava will bind herself. All three will act on instinct.
If art today is where we are looking to find spiritual transformation, we should abandon late capitalism’s idea of individualistic self-help and search instead for encounters with the sublime through collective experience. Radical consciousness is possible, but deliverance is harnessed to the flesh.