A short story inspired by the opening evening of ‘Scrying Threats’ Donna Huanca’s exhibition at Queer Thoughts, 1640 W. 18th St. #3 Chicago, IL 60608, 9.21.13 – 10.27.13
Samantha cast her eyes down to the pavement as she walked past the two police officers stationed street-level at the Pilsen Western Blue line stop. She straightened her canvas mini-back pack by shrugging her shoulders up. The chill of evening air over her damp scalp felt colder as she hurried past them. She felt their eyes on her, but knew that they could not see what had just transpired.
While waiting for the train she looked down at her non-descript athletic shoes, and smirked, knowing they concealed the toes that had just been wiped clean of paint.
She contrasted visual memory with the muscle memory of holding her bare body in transitory states; leaning, turning, not quite writhing, almost paused, being natural and secretly showing off. She contrasted the new feeling of painting with what she remembered the painting to look like.
In her experience, there had been no formal precedent for this work. Dance doesn’t often collapse into art with such ease. She knew Donna was pleased with the work, and Samantha was pleased that this evening had doubled as a quiet celebration of changes in her own life. Having spent much time on stage, she mused it strange and obvious that this much satisfaction could unfold from a stage so difficult to describe.
In the gallery Queer Thoughts, she had tuned-in her own soundtrack on a hand held radio. Occasional flips of the light switch by Donna, Sam, and Miguel changed the scene from a brilliant, crisp wonderland of loose, quivering paintings and fabrics to a black hole with impromptu day-glo finger paintings floating across the darkened room, her hair, and face.
The audience’s constant captivation was made more intimate by the close quarters. ‘Is this space still a stage?,’ she thought to herself, ‘…or are we somewhere else?’. As they vied for the best vantage she could feel them questioning if it was in fact okay to look. The politics of each exchange was palpable and some stayed longer than others. Her own vision was not occupied with their bodies, but reflections of their shoes by a small, low mirror.
Theatrical audience murmurings further confused the space of the stage. When an effeminate male voice admiringly cried out, “Just look at that neck line…” all attention turned toward her neck, and to him. She knew that most people there knew her beauty wasn’t the intended focus of the happening, but for some it was.
As Samantha got on the train she thought it ironic that no authority could charge her with being victim to her own liberation.
She knows it is impossible to present your-self, or be presented by someone else, without being made into an object, and yet she was/is herself.
She sat down, calmly greeting the passenger next to her, and feeling happy that she had been the one in the room.
Images of the exhibit: http://qtgallery.net/pages/Exhibitions/Donna_Huanca_Scrying_Threats.html