Moon Valentine is a performance piece I developed based on my own experiences with what some would call bipolar (read manic episode). It has sound art (live and pre-recorded), projection art, prop work, improv (I used a wireless mic for the first time), and audience participation.
I signed up for another quarter of the RAW (Resident Artist Workshop) with SAFEhouse for the Arts in San Francisco. I created Moon Valentine inspired by my desire to process my psychotic break I had two years ago into art. It was also in January that I went to the Emergency Room and then the Psych Ward to begin treatment of a slow building shift from reality. In Moon Valentine, I portray this in 4 parts.
The piece starts off with a poem I wrote based off of drawings that I made (in the projection art). Numbers are prominent in this poem. It talks about being 5 together or when I was 3 and you were 6. I like that it might imply age, but for me at the time of my mind going, I had come out to my friends as a plural being. Later on in the piece, I was going to talk about the 9 god-children that came out of my mental processes at the time, but I didn’t get there. I think it deserves more time and thought for mapping that out. I went to Ocean Beach to film the waves, particularly the sea foam left by the waves receding. I’ve been into using receipt tape rolls to write poetry on. They give a sense of length that remind me of journeys and how art is a map to a mental journey.
I commissioned Cassidy to do an audio piece about my spaceship cruising and crashing. I made these forking lines on notebook sheets and laid them out on the floor. I also handed out small cups of rice and soft card protectors as sound props for the audience. I enjoyed the sounds of the people making noise around me while I was quiet.
In my story to connect the different scenes, the spaceship lands on a planet where I plant seeds (Styrofoam balls) in my home-world’s soil (scraps of ribbon I took home from work– I do ribbon tying at work and we trim the ends and these things usually go in the trash). My seed carrying case was a silver shower cap. There’s a part where I sing a wordless song. That’s a nod to when I went mental. I was inspired to sing a lot. I felt like it filled the air with meaning and beauty. The way I asked to go to the hospital was through song. This section is also about how I moved from Seattle to the Bay Area a little while after and I had to leave a lot of my things and friends at a time when I was very vulnerable and not all there.
I read a poem that’s mostly gibberish but also has little snippets like “theory one” and “they are” and “must not”– hinting at a dire line of thinking, trying to communicate– navigate– in a world where people tell you you’re not making sense and when you try to explain they just look at you with sad eyes.
In this section, I recruited two audience members (scientists), suited them with lab coats, and briefly demonstrated how to “diagnose” people. They cuffed (using a stapler) audience members with receipt tape with hand-written words like “becoming” and “gift present” and “beauty sail”. The previous night I had diagnoses that were positive and negative. I talked to the diagnosing scientist afterwards and said that he did not give out the negative ones like “broken.”
This was a “one-woman” show but by no means was I the only one on the team. Dmitriy helped with prop sourcing, Cassidy was the projector operator, mic dresser, hair dresser and make up artist and composer of a section of the prerecorded audio. Ben encouraged me to use the wireless mics to create some live audio (and helped me procure them). Cory was costume consultant. James worked the tech booth and a great thanks for SAFEhouse for the Arts, giving me an opportunity to create and perform.