TORTURE performance/installation
@ DUMBO Arts Festival 2008

Participants must enter into the projected space to get to the performer, becoming performers themselves. Some tentatively approach and gingerly, slowly remove images with the forceps which they have chosen from a selection of instruments ranging from relatively benign, blunt instruments, to nasty looking potentially damaging, sharp, toothed instruments. Others take pleasure in gripping and ripping the image stickers off.

While the piece seems to offer catharsis for the collective guilt of American atrocities, by allowing the participants to engage in unburdening the performer of the weight of the imagery, like surgeons cutting away dead tissue, it also draws the participants into this ethereal world and forces them to confront the images on a personal scale, while being bathed in the symbols of warped national pride. Committed to interacting with the vulnerable and passive performer, the participants must complete the action that is far more "real" than anticipated and exit the space with the artifact of atrocity at the end of their instrument, giving them time to study and assimilate the gravity of the image in hand, and realize it is but a drop in the ocean, a single almost un-noticed action, that hardly makes a difference. It is only through collective, accumulated effort that any real impact is achieved: at once reminding the participant of their lack of power and showing that change can be accomplished through group action.

© Gearóid Dolan, 2008. All rights reserved