The Reed Bed, 2016
The Reed Bed
June 4th, 2016
11-hour performance, beginning at 11am, at Grace Exhibition Space (Brooklyn, NY)
Corey Bliss, Priscilla Cross, Quincy Davisson, Meg Dellenbaugh, Mackenzie Fitzgerald, Emily Lowe, Sarah H. Paulson, and Laura Clarke Stelmok
Travis Laplante, Daniel Pearce, Kurt Weisman
Paulson lies atop a pile of salt for the duration of the performance. For 12+ hours* she is handed page after page torn out from a 100+ year-old ledger. With the help of Laura Stelmok, she holds each page over her neck and burns three holes into the paper with a moxa stick.
Another performer, Emily Lowe, meticulously looks after the large book that is slowly burned. Hour after hour, the book’s bulkiness is diminished as she removes each of the 700+ pages of names and numbers.
Meanwhile, other performers move, gesture, rest, and are present to the burning ritual at the center of the space. They are sung to, individually and collectively, by the musicians and the smoke.
In unanticipated preparation for The Reed Bed, and for the duration of their relationship thus far, Paulson has collected the discarded saxophone reeds of Travis Laplante. Throughout the performance, hundreds of these used reeds are repeatedly arranged side-by-side in a perfect circle by performer Quincy Davisson. She periodically enters this circle and drinks water for the whole from a decanter. The reed circle is swept away and recreated, over and over again. It is restored by the very water that it provides.
The Reed Bed is a performance of longing. It is a cry for the return. It is a cry for lost words, lost language, and a place where forgetting and remembering happen simultaneously.
It is a place where the kiss is carried by the wind. It is a place where the breath is fueled by fire. It is a place where we are invited to reconsider our understanding of life and death. And above all, it is a tiny moment where performance might reveal its connection to that timeless place where water is eternal, for the first and, perhaps, the last time.
*Please note: This performance ended at 10pm, 1 hour earlier than expected.