March 2014, Philspace, Santa Fe NM
Kawashokachakraboom / Compensatory Decorative Exhilaration / For Ella was conceived as a “tableau vivant” with sculptural elements, video/audio and live performers. Simply put, the work has to do with the risk and balance required in the pursuit of ultimate freedom, understood from a yoga perspective to be freedom from fear of death. Whether the activity is motorcycle riding, yoga, japanese flower arranging or any form of art, the practitioner who achieves grace must negotiate risk and find balance. A question central to the piece concerns the confusion around glamour which enchants through surface in contrast with the poise of a unified or integrated person. Uncanniness results from the ambiguity of surface and depth, living and dead, and body and image, heightened in the piece due to the stillness of the performers. The “boom” of the title refers not only to colloquial expressions of approval, “boomshakalaka” or “vavoom,” but to Susan Sontag's “cogito ergo boom,” her summary phrase for all the brilliant western thinking that nonetheless results in “our sense of standing in the ruins of thought and on the verge of the ruins of history and of man himself.” Kawashokachakraboom plays with the tension between the extreme though elegant self-torture of western thinking about thinking in the writing of E.M. Cioran with Eastern practices of embodied wisdom and harmony with nature. The phrase “compensatory decorative exhilaration” was used by Frederic Jameson in writing about the aesthetics of late capitalism, with its waning of affect and fragmentation of the subject, yet full of new possibilities.
The sculpture-event is composed formally as a shoka floral offering with its pared down tertiary structure, reflecting harmony between heaven, earth and human. Three female yoginis are posing with three motorcycles. One of them is on the floor in a “corpse” pose. A tire vase holds tall living bamboo. An attendant paints the nails of the yoginis, and paparazzi circulate taking photographs of the assemblage. The live reading of Cioran and audio/video of roaring motorcycles racing around a track also undercut the quiet. It becomes an even greater challenge for the yoginis to maintain concentration in a spectacle environment that is intentionally unstable, noisy at times, and exposed to the public. The contrast between stillness and movement, inner and outer, chaos and order is part of the work. Finally, it is not about a complex or perfected choreographed performance but rather the tension of a practice in real time. The failure /perfection paradigm becomes irrelevant, subsumed in the flow of time, sometimes chaotic.
This work was reviewed at http://adobeairstream.com/art/kawasaki-plus-yoga-equals-kawashokachakraboom/