Visions of Excess was curated by Ron Athey and Lee Adams. The event, at Shunt Vaults, stages 12 hours of intense gestures, images and performances on the subject of death, eroticism and the forbidden. There are two preludes to the event:Prelude #1 Porosity and Prelude #2: The performance contract.
Overspill: Visions of Excess was a collaborative writing event initiated by SPILL: Overspill writers Alex Eisenberg and Rachel Lois Clapham. The project involved both writers setting up a public writing station in Shunt Vaults, working over the course of the 12 hour event to produce live critical responses to the work experienced. This writing, which included dialogue from audience members and artists, was simultaneously projected into the space for the duration of the event. The 12 hours was full of fun frolics, close encounters and highly charged moments, and lots of people participated in our live writing performance. Below is an edited transcript of what happened between midnight and 9am.
The first 6 hours can be read here.
Ruth(Audience Member) - Waiting…(for Ron)…waiting, waiting, muscles flex. Nauseous. I watch the muscles, vibrating slightly. Waiting. I’m still not sure what to expect. Faces explicit. Faces open and animated. The crowd building expanding like blood clotting at a freshly cut wound. Waiting. Our shared expectancy pulsating, some experienced some beginners. All eyes on the subject. Still waiting, I sense our pulse uniting; the blood rush expanding our vessels testing our breaking point. Hairs rising. Questions throbbing through me. I watch through the photographer’s lens serenely drifting in and out of focus in front of me. I want to scream. Nauseous again, I think of clotting blood racing to harden on the surface of his skin.
[It has begun]
So right yeah… I shall continue. Later.
Alex - Ron is naked on all fours on a raised platform in the middle of one of the arches. Four pieces of clean glass are in stands on each side of the platform. He is delicately brushing what we recognise to be a synthetic wig – it’s horrendously blonde and horrendously long – it is Ron’s horrendous wig. His brushing, this delicate feminine gesture, quickly becomes a reaction, as his attempt to back comb and mutilate this wig become evident – to make it more horrendous, more horrendous. As he rises up on his knees, exposing his chest to us, continuing to furiously destroy the wig we had almost admired on him at first, he begins to rip it from his bald head…
I AM AWARE THAT YOU ARE READING THIS…we can do this together if you want?
Alex - It’s later than I thought – it’s later than we all thought. There is a sense of expectation – there are thoughts about being sodomised by five men and a goat (not mine). Perhaps Ron Athey’s fisting has spurred this thought on, or perhaps it was the video playing earlier of Sam Sweeting’s lamb suckling – because lets face it lambs are basically goats?
Over now, to another – who also writes:
Andrew (Audience Member) - No. Lambs are not basically goats. Goat song is a rough translation of the Greek origin of the word for tragedy. Lambs, on the other hand, pretty much start off round the whole Old Testament thing about sacrifice and find a resolution somewhere around 0033 where the Son of Man gets nailed to some wood and is the Lamb of God.
Alex - We gather round a body raised on a wooden platform (dais). The first encounter with this body confuses – we don’t know immediately if it is a male or female body. The body naked is covered in three places – feet (high heels), genitals (knickers) and head (wig). This is a body in-between, an unstable body – and in its stillness, as it lies there, motionless, with a metallic ball gagging its mouth – it begins to reveal itself to us. We are instructed to think of this body as ‘our’ collective body. We are instructed by a disembodied voice over loudspeakers, to move closer to this body to place ourselves in relation to it – to touch it and, in turn, to touch each other – and we obey. A collective act of touching. And now we are implicated, no longer just a spectator but part of the act. We are instructed to use the tweezers placed around the body to pluck the hairs from it.
I am in the front row, I am close to this body and having had a curious interest in tweezers since I was a young child – in fact a curious interest in hair removal – I find myself compelled to begin removing the hair of another, of this body in-between. The act itself is delicate and considered. I take my time and I care as I remove hair by hair. I try this technique where you pull back the skin a little bit – to harden it up(?) – to ease the pain (?)…
A conversation now about what we are doing…about whether we are writing a novel or a book? There are these distractions you see…distractions which move me away from my moment with the tweezers, from my role in the transformation of the body which I have described above…soft, harmless and clean. I envy that body.
Unknown (Audience Member) - A funny old thing this, probably never be read, just in case it is, JCE Dorman you are due all my worldly goods in the sad event of my demise. ...So I suspect someone is watching me as I type here, perhaps she might say “cunt” so I know she’s there. But then maybe hse won’t. I’m not going to go back and correct my spelling. Anyway, stuck in a whole world of wierdos we are. Weirdoes so proud to be weirdos. Weirdos that seem to think that by shaving their head in this way or that or getting someone to shove his fist up his arse then that’ll be a profound thing. A deep thing. Something that means something. Seriously though what the fuck difference does that make to anything, have you eased anyone’s pain? Positioning you as other, as against is pointless, no good to anyone. You got to be FOR. What do you believe in? I don’t give a fuck what you’re against soldier. Tell me what you think will make the world a better place.
If you are watching this and it even inkles, hum.
Rachel Lois - Compere for the night, David Hoyle, just got us all lost, again. He is an unlikely leader. We follow him all the same. Terrifyng, glamorous, fiercely anti-gay gay man David. He told us he genuinely loved us and wished us well. He told us that if any of us look down on him for being the way he is (gay, fierce, tall, glamorous?) – or say anything bad about any of the people here tonight - he would slit our throats; that we would be raped and that our children would have shit thrown on them forever, and ever. He genuinely meant it. And we loved him for it. David isn’t funny as a compere, not really as a performer either. Not in a theatrical way. He is just David. To say ‘just David’ is of course trite. David sells out many a Vauxhall Tavern night on being ‘Just David’. ‘Just’ is a complex thing for David, for his audience too. Being just David on stage is where his magic is. When the mask slips from troubling performance persona to thoughtful and at times troubled person. In there, that space between rehearsal and real life, is where he shines, where he differs. We are all right there with him tonight.
Julie and Rachel Lois start to slow dance together, still dancing Julie says:
J- Are you OK?
Rachel Lois - Yes, of course. Are you?
J - Yes
Rachel Lois - Not tired?
J- Yes. I take short breaks, for toilet. Also to try and get warm. I have had no sleep for a long time so my body is extra sensitive to warmth and cold. It’s really cold in here.
Rachel Lois - don’t you feel vulnerable doing this?
J- Of course, don’t you?
Rachel Lois - Hmm. Yes. But I’m not blindfolded…
J- It’s so rare to get to meet and spend time with strangers in this way. A slow dance is something everybody recognises, something gentle.
Rachel Lois - Does everybody want to talk?
J- Some. Some not.
Alex - Dominic Johnson, having been buried up to his neck, hung glitter balls off his own flesh, and stood motionless in talc-covered soil over the last 9 hours, now removes the bloody glamour to reveal himself. In the ‘green room’ he asks me to tie his shoelaces as he is not able to – maybe he’s too weak or maybe its just that he doesn’t want to blemish his brilliant white Doc Martins.
David Hoyle with his loud hailer remains glamorous.
Alex - Just seen a performance by Mouse. For the first ten minutes I had an obscured view – I couldn’t see her or the bear…and I wanted to see her. She demanded to be seen. This drum and bass, dictating the rhythm of events, predicting the climax(es).
1. Candle in anus - lit
2. Firework in anus and vagina – lit
Firework = fire = birthday cake = light candles = celebrate = end celebration.
3. Funnel in vagina + soapy water [projection outwards] = cleanliness
THIS PERFORMANCE WAS NOT DIRTY.
4. Funnel in anus + soapy water [projection outwards] = cleanliness
THIS PERFORMANCE WAS NOT DIRTY.
Alex - We’ve been a’ suckling – with Sam. Thank you Sam, I mean it.
Rachel Lois - Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning, padding downstairs for coffee, turning on the telly and you don’t see the regular plethora of foodie cooking programmes. Or at least, you do. But the main protagonist is naked, and being indecent with the food. The cook is taking real sexual pleasure from their cheffing endeavours. Sucking a cucumber lasciviously, even viciously. Gobbing home-made spaghetti, rubbing his tattooed body right through a cream puff. Lazlo’s homemade spaghetti may make you come, but the orgasm is just the part of the reel that didn’t make the grade, and is left on the BBC cutting room floor. Deemed unfit for families. Lazlo takes it one step further, to its natural end, he knows the line between food and sex is a fine one. He tests a similarly fine line at the end with a fantastic flourish; spaghetti all over him, wipping off his pants to reveal a pre-operative female muff.
Bruce LaBruce is looking a bit worse for wear now. Too much partying for that man.
Rachel Lois - Becoming more and more tired. Really zoned (out). Difficult to distinguish between performer and audience at this point in the night. Naked people no longer belong on stage. A very heady mix, we have slimmed down to the hardcore, the people who perhaps aren’t at work tomorrow, or ever for that matter. Or maybe its just that everybody is too tired, hungry or out of it to care about anyone else anymore…
Alex - I think I’m going to dance now…do you want to come – its hardcore techno.
Rachel – Yeah sure…how many people are left?
Alex – Not that many now…
Alex - A moment of penis and a moment of glitter blood amalgamate together. As Shunt, the space itself, brings moments and gestures into and out of focus, it has created some sort of hybridised mixture of experiences: So that I am in fact suckling on Franko B’s penis, whilst having my hair groomed by Ron Athey (thanks Ron), as Dominic Johnson plucks hairs not from my body (because I like them there) but instead from the side of my eyebrows – I dream to look a bit like David Hoyle (?). It’s time to go now…
You can read the first 6 hours here