Sarah Hill

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Sarah Hill, I’m Fine, performance at Gallery Labirynt, 2013

“No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.” ~ Artaud

The performance I’m Fine is deeply concerned with moving the audience into a state of feeling, through anger on the part of the performer. In this way I view my practice as cathartically dialogical. When I say catharsis I mean: To purge. An emotional cleansing that can be experienced as therapeutic, but never therapy. In other words, a strong laxative, that allows one to shit out what is no longer necessary. This extreme change in emotion (on the part of the performer) is where the audience could potentially become activated by his or her own catharsis. I’m Fine has been performed at the following events: International Festival of Live Art in Glasgow, Scotland, Grace Exhibition Space and Lumen Festival in New York, Hillyer Art Space in DC, BLAA’s event Momentum at Anthony Greaney, Boston, Le Lieu in Québec, Canada, and SUPERNOVA Performance Art Festival in Rosslyn, Virginia, little berlin in Philadelphia and Performance Platform in Lublin, Poland at Labirynt Gallery. The below Documentation (shot by Artur Dowgird) is from I’m Fine performed at Performance Platform at Gallery Labirynt in Lublin, Poland.

[vimeo 80900892 w=500 h=281]

I am currently working on an animation using video documentation from  I’m Fine that was performed at Le Lieu, centre en art actuel in Québec, Canada. The documentation that I am animating was shot by Patrick Dubé. It takes me approximately three hours to animate five seconds. The documentation is 24 frames per second and is 8 minutes long, which is 420 seconds, and 11,520 drawings.

I am interested in examining why the collective understanding of what defines a contemporary audience or a performer continues to shift and blur. This entails a consideration of the multiple attempts throughout history to abolish the separation of performer and audience. To confront the residue of trauma, you must be willing to face insanity. Memories come in waves, never chronologically. I’m Fine reflects the experience of lived trauma. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome. Dorothy Allison says it better than I can, “Behind the story I tell is the one I don’t. Behind the story you hear is the one I wish I could make you hear.”

[vimeo 67642113 w=500 h=281]

Gender confusion is a small price to pay for social progress. I define social progress as the visible presence of transgender bodies in my work. I am aware that others may not read my body as transgender when viewing my videos or performances. However, this is how I choose to define my body and gender. People can learn to work around my definitions of gender because I have spent my life working around others’ definitions. I have the right and the ability to exercise complete control over my flesh. It’s mine. I live here. I don’t rent. I am not borrowing it. My body belongs to me and I am going to do with it what I choose until I die. My work becomes the performance of reclaiming this psychological space.

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Sarah Hill’s practice could easily be described as a slow burn: steady and always growing in intensity.  Their work is confrontational. Not necessarily in the modern connotation of the word, but in the sense that it actively faces that with which it is in opposition. When encountering the performances  first hand, I feel both a desire to help and a fear of being wrong in doing so. Sarah  falls and stands on their own. I don’t think they would have it another way.

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