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Arts / Performing Arts

Japanese Bondage, Vomiting on Stage and Body Labeling

Experimental Art Pushes Houston’s Boundaries

BY // 03.10.17

Four talented Texas artists coordinated a pioneering performance exhibition dubbed Experimental Action in Houston. Evan McCarley, Julia Claire Wallace, Jonatan Lopez and Jana Whatley brought together local and international performers for the three-day show at venues across the city.

“This is about interaction and allowing the visitors to create an interpretation for themselves,” says Rebecca Botello, a volunteer photographer during the exhibition.

At Walter’s, Casey Waldner, a local performance artist from Houston, was in the spotlight. Considering this was Waldner’s first performance in front of an audience, she executed the work with ease. Six white gift boxes tied neatly with a light blue bow were seated in front of her. She sat in a chair and opened each box to reveal a red gelatinous-like substance in two different glass jars. While eating the contents of the jars, a large mess of red would form around her face, her dress, and eventually the floor.

Waldner then pulled out a large mirror from her purse, and a compact. She hastily covered the evidence of her eating with thick face powder. This sequence repeated itself over and over again until every box was eaten.

Eating what was in the boxes became harder for Waldner and she got sick at times on stage. She essentially executed physical torture upon herself in front of show viewers.

Later as I continued to wander through the space, the artist Rosi Bytheway approached me. Covered head to waist in white stickers that bore labels such as, “Insecure,” “Cold,” or “Sick.” She gave me a marker and sticker and allowed me to do the same. I placed the word “Latina” on her arm. Without knowing her, I labeled her.

Shattered Pulse, a local artist, allowed anyone to write words on a notepad, which she then interpreted in the Japanese bondage art called Shibari. She was tied up on a metal ring that she hung from a rope. The rope was wrapped around her legs, chest and arms keeping her restrained and preventing her from untying herself.

By addressing topics such as shame from eating, labeling others without knowing them, and bondage art, the performers stretched their limits in terms of reaching out to the audience.

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