Paige Barnes & Amy Denio

(P:SA showing on Saturday 10 August 2013)

we were a group of six artists

we knew one another

we entered the space together

the lighting was dim

it was quiet

we took off our shoes

left our bags by the door

moved into the space


two female artists both nude

with white fabric covering their faces

were in the white space to the left

the floor was strewn with maple seedpods

& they were throwing handfuls of them into the air


the six of us crossed the floor to the beige daybed

we removed our clothing & placed it

in personal bins under the couch

we took thick rolled towels

& made seats for ourselves

in the white space with the artists


gathering lifting dropping throwing falling shedding scraping sliding


once supposed to fell away

& this is only this

so let us experience it

came forward

we got energetic & sat up & knelt

& threw seed pods with exuberance


when in time our energy

died down naturally

paige and amy left the space

we turned to follow their progress

paige went behind a row of privacy screens

amy moved off to our left


a video projection appeared

on the hanging plexi-panels

that  paige had disappeared behind

vellum frosted panels

hung one beside the other

at a slow angle


it took a moment to realize

what i was seeing

at first i thought it was

a static desktop image

like the one you see

before the video plays


it was live feed from a camera

there was a blue light in the space

& a pubic triangle at the table’s edge

& the crease of a woman’s stomach


amy still nude stood to our left

& began playing the clarinet

the body in the video moved

the body of paige the blue body

falling softly to the table

hands caressing the wood

face down felled fallen

head sideways turned

arms out like blue notes

a maple seed pod having spun down

now looking for soil life


not only were the screens at an angle

but the table & paige’s body were at an angle

which gave the scene a rich pathos

like in the lamentation of christ

painted by andrea mantegna in 1480

this is about death & rebirth

about renewal & salvation

here we have

the humanity of paige


the light shifted

from blue to orange-red

& paige’s body to purple

her breathing expanded

& contracted a shadowy arch

between the table & her waist

the line of her spine stood out

the line between her butt cheeks

the purple shadows of her fingers


she sat up on the edge of the table

raising & lowering her torso

making another dark shadow under her

which she claimed power over

i own this shadow these notes this blueness


then she lay on the table

face up head towards the camera

towards us

hands on her body

one high on her chest

the other low on her stomach

she breathed in waves

first one then the other hand

swelled like the sea

she moved to the music

the music quickened

it moved through paige differently

pulsing & shaking

making the fat on her legs jiggle


i noticed i could see paige

between the panels

& found the reality

of her nearness conflicting

with her video distance

the body was simply & naturally sensual


she moved forward

& made a shadow on her body

a darker mark

she gave us her hands and wrists

in a close-up

open closing dance


then she lay face-up on the table

with the crown of her head

towards us towards the camera

& her face flattened

i didn’t recognize her

she struggled to rise


a sneeze from the audience so raw

from the bodies on the floor


when paige moved out

of the camera field

i looked around at the space

sparse & clean

ritual areas set up

with  glass bowls candles

benches chairs low red lights


paige approached the panels

she stood facing us

rocking forward

pushing a panel forward

with her hand making it rock

she then buckled back away from it


she stood in the next panel

sideways classic shower pose

when she stepped away

her form grew hazy & large


the quality of amy’s music changed

she began alternating tones

between clarinet notes & her own voice

which gave her music a hovering quality

like a maple spinner slowly fluttering to earth


paige emerged from the panels

& walked with amy to a bench

set against a white wall

with a large metal bowl on it

we moved our mats closer

amy sat at one end

playing & vocalizing

paige at the other sat

marking herself with red paint

using a red sponge

&  drawing liquid

from the metal bowl


she made lines down her torso & legs

spirals around her arms

a curled fern on her back

amy gave longer tones

with a new consonant quality

no-ohhh no-oh-ohhh

this was a cleaning score

a ritual preparation

after long calm application

paige was properly marked

& moved alone into the raised back room


a coyote mask on the floor

stood looking at a mirror

paige picked it up

& held it to her chest

she tied it to her body

with long black ribbons

then walked away from us

she stood against

a white wooden wall

lit with little votives


not until she blew on it

did i notice

the floor was covered

with reddish dirt

a plume of dust swirled

in the candlelight


amy’s voice changed then

to puttering & blumbering

her lips made new wilder sounds


paige kicked up dust behind her

& put her head in the dirt

i could see the spiral paint

on her back & around her arms

like a candy stripe or a devil’s tail


then her left arm got caught

in the coyote’s mouth

she stiffened & struggled to free it

both she & amy increased their efforts

with louder longer movements & tones

paige’s hair fell from its tie


though the struggle was devised

the purpose was clear

to relive the release

it didn’t matter

this was a shamanic healing


after struggling & failing

paige stopped & easily removed

her arm from the animal’s mouth

she had seen her own release


she removed the mask

shook it until

a few curled sticks fell out

removed the long ribbon ties

& held it to her face

the face seemed longer & more vicious

she put a handful of dirt into it

& held it to her face again

she blew one big huffing breath

smoking coyote!


she tipped the mask up

& dirt slid down her neck

& chest & marked her

with a new track of brown

she spun like a maple leaf

& laid down in the dirt


the creature was dying

amy’s voice got longer & louder

paige was on her hands & knees

propping the mask in the dirt

pushing it forward with her face

then she retreated

& left the mask there

without a body

she reclaimed her body

& stood & danced in it

i saw some of paige then

the dance i know she owns

because i’ve seen her dance it

but now it had

a new vocabulary to it

with some low standing spinning


when paige stepped forward

i feared it would end

i didn’t want it to end here

i felt it wasn’t finished


from where i was sitting

a chair was often in the way

of my viewing

a chair at a desk

with a book on it

& a bottle & a glass


now that the mask had dropped

now that the ceremony was over

i wanted to know

what she’d been through

in her own words

i wanted her to verbalize it

to a close & distant friend

i wanted her to sit at the desk

& write a letter

& read it aloud as she went

not a letter she pre-composed

but a live letter

about what she’d been through


i felt a great potential

in her body just then

like she’d had wild visions

a remarkable journey

that might be cemented

into her soul & mind

if only she could give it words

something was being kept from us


a k mimi allin