Program note by Next Fest NW 2017 Writer-in-Residence Jordan Macintosh-Hougham, in response to the Festival’s theme of “disruption.”
1. RADICAL EMPATHY
The audience witnesses the piece, and they understand. They know they don’t have to put words to the understanding. They see a movement, a facial expression, a gesture… they engage on a visceral level. It informs how they witness the next thing. The piece is abstract, but they experience a radical kind of empathy. They see the place the maker is holding for them, the thought the maker put into the audience’s experience. It’s personal for them now, and they know that the personal is political. It’s precious and it’s not precious. It’s more than just a dance, and it’s also just a dance. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. The audience witnesses, engages, and empathizes. The audience leaves, and they know the piece isn’t over.
2. HOME IS NOT SAFE
I was somewhere else and now I’m home again. At home, we think we’re doing enough. We take pride in our home and we pat each other on the back. We express to outsiders how idyllic it is here, but forget about the newcomers that are pushing us out. We complain about the smoke in the air, but admire the beautiful red sun. We don’t really believe the Cascadia Subduction Zone is about to rupture. We convince ourselves that we’re only ignoring a lot so we can keep surviving. We know our day to day survival may be our collective downfall. Home does not mean stability. Home does not always mean safe. I was somewhere else, and now I’m home again, and I wonder who’s home this is.
3. EXISTENCE IS DISRUPTION
This work is a cyborg. It speaks a heteroglossic tongue. Its muscle is moved by a heart that beats on multiple timescales. Body made of skin and pixel and vibration, with arms outstretched. It is queer, liminal, intersectional, non-linear. It’s calculated, but the code is broken. It is anxious, existential, and is experiencing confusing amounts of love. How many times has it been told it shouldn’t exist, or that it doesn’t? How many times has it been put in a box or devalued? The cyborg cares what other people think of it, but regardless, it revolts, it values itself, it exists.