Interactive Instillation Performance

The bathroom is the private space. Where you like to have control, seclusion, a breather, your 'you time'. I want to take that away. I want to invade it using the crowd just outside your barrier of the locked door.
First you come and record the answer to: "For four minutes talk to me about injuries, sicknesses, or illnesses in your life. Preferably one specific injury or illness  in detail, get gory." Then I use those recordings to send to a wireless speaker sitting in the toilet bowl. I watch for you to enter the bathroom, wait a second, then play someone's story. I take away your control of the light so you're in pitch black. While you perform your biological function voices come out of the bowl. They talk about being invaded by bacteria in their feet, or surgical instruments poking in their lungs, or babies dying within them, or their head hitting concrete. They invade your safe space with their personal pain.
And then, if lucky, later you start chatting to someone else at the exhibition, and, slowly, it dawns on you: 'I know that voice …'
It's meant to be cheeky. People enjoy talking about themselves, even if they don't know why they're doing it. They get a kick out of the confusion of a dark toilet with voices coming out of the bowl. Everyone becomes the performer, the collaborator, the voyeur, and they get social with people they may not even meet.
And 'the shot of medicine' (vodka) they get after they tell their story helps limber them up to talk to others, encourages their need to go to the toilet, and possibly makes them fall over and hurt themselves. Which, in turn, gives them a story they can tell …

With this and another piece, Pillow Talk, I'm first of all throwing away the performer/object to audience relationship. I don't want a passive role in my work, I want there to be direct connection, and for the person experiencing the work to be actually contributing some or most of the content. Specifically in these pieces, I'm exploring a life long obsession with communication between people. Though connection with people has been the richest part of my life, it has also been steeped in confusion, anxiety, and paranoia. I've never quite trusted that there's not some conspiracy, that everyone knows something I don't, and, though I've been able to hold my own in conversation in every imaginable situation, I still see people talking on the other side of the room and wonder 'What the hell could they possibly be talking about?' So in these pieces I'm wanting a number of things: to disrupt normal modes of conversation as well as control it; to entice people to talk about their most intimate and personal selves immediately; to introduce people through these personal moments, but in voice only, so as to bypass the filter of sight and the judgment that comes with it; to create a strange situation where you have heard someone's personal story, and you know they are in the same room as you, but you don't know what they look like; to test my and other people's roles as listeners and communicators; to take people out of their comfort zones, to be intrusive into that space somehow; and for people to have a laugh. These pieces (aptly? ironically?) work perfectly in taking control of what gives me so much anxiety -- instead of being at an exhibition opening standing around works and making small talk, I, and the people who participate with me, are engaged in creation. We are no longer passive.


1. In toilet space, suction cup red, wireless, waterproof speaker to inside of bowl, along with tiny LED light.
Turn off light and cover up light fixture with bubble wrap and white double sided tape (gives texture in the dark of something bulbous and sticky, such as a liver or spleen).
Room now pitch black except for tiny glow from bowl (to avoid men spraying all over floor like dogs).
Place on door something like 'No Light' or 'Light broken'.
2. During exhibition, sit dressed in white in corner with 'Sit Here' in red gaffer above. Sit in red chair with one red chair opposite.
When person or people approaches ask them to do an interview. When they sit, tell them they are going to talk for four minutes, that they will hold the recorder close to their mouth, that I will show them the time on a timer, and that every once in a while I may have to do something on my computer.
What to say to interviewee:
"Okay, tell me, in four minutes, and in as much detail as you can, about any injuries, or illnesses, or sickness, or pain, in your life. Tell one story or many. Get as gory and gross and detailed as you can."
Record interview.
Thank interviewer and tell them it is time for medicine. Pour a shot of vodka in small white tea cup, one for them one for you, cheers them ('Na Zdorovie") and do shot.
3. Take interview and place on playlist on laptop which is wirelessly connected to speaker in bowl.
4. Being in site of toilet, watch for people entering (must be done simultaneous with recording process). There will usually be some fumbling for light until they realize there is none. When door closes wait a beat for them to sit on the seat or get their thing out, then start playing one of the recordings, which will come from the bowl itself.
5. Hopefully later some people meet and recognize each other's voice from toilet: "Oh, you're the guy who had that horrible skin disease", "Oh, you're the girl who had the five inch nails driven into your foot and had to be in a wheelchair for a year", etc.