Dallas, meet Performance Southwest. Even if you're not a performance art fan the name might sound familiar from fits and starts around town, but their mission is much larger than this city. It's an educational group with constituents all over the country dedicated to educating audiences on the exciting, yet often pedantic world of performance art. On Saturday, the group's co-founder Courtney Brown will perform from 4-6 p.m. as part of the closing day of (wo)manorial exhibition never to be yourself and yet always - that is the problem at The Reading Room, 3715 Parry Avenue.Visitors are encouraged to drop in at anytime and stay as long they'd like. The exhibit itself is worth a trip; add in Brown's stylings and there's no excuse for missing it. Plus, it's close to Fair Park, so you can pop in when you need a break from the beers at the Irish Festival.
Tuesday, Brown took a few minutes to chat with the Mixmaster about the performance and what she's cooking up next.
Where might interested Dallasites have seen your work before?
I have performed in industrial warehouses and raw retail spaces like the Singleton Avenue warehouse district,now known as Trinity Groves, and Deep Ellum Windows, local galleries and non-profit art spaces like 500X, Goss-Michael Foundation, and most recently the Dallas Museum of Art for their summer group show.
Give us the lowdown on Bone Ties:
Bone Ties is a performance art piece inspired by the Native American ritual of making prayer ties. I was first taught to make prayer ties as a teen by my first spiritual teacher in 2003. It is a form of meditation and prayer and, for me, is usually about acceptance, gratitude, and letting go -think of the Rosary. For this performance, I am abstracting this practice in a sort of self-portrait about where I am in my life right now. I am currently moving through some big life shifts as I prepare to marry my loving partner, Chris, and accept the aging of my loved ones. These are some things this work is about.
How does it fit into the overall themes of the exhibit by (wo)manarial?
This performance is especially challenging for me because I typically don't share intimate details my spiritual background outside of my friends and family. I have done this both out of respect for my prayer family and the broader Native American community. However, I have been putting off making this particular piece for years and I feel that now is the time I need to be honest in this way. So I feel that this piece connects with the show as it relates to the journey of self-actualization.
If you had to describe your performance style in just a few words how would you?
My solo performance work is autobiographical, as I think most art is. Some themes in my work are pain, death, and mental health. These ideas usually make the most sense to me in the form of meditation, ritual, and endurance.
My collaborative work with others, like my good friend Alison Starr, Shannon Brunskill, and Joel Kiser the work is often about our shared experiences, overlaps in our historical narrative, and play. Lots and lots of play!
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Explain Performance Southwest to me a little bit:
Alison Starr and I created the project name Performance Southwest as a response to the reality of making performance art in Dallas. Many local artists here make live performance work but not many of them focus exclusively on the medium as a primary practice. Ali and I really felt that in order to create more "space" for performance art in our community (one that is on the periphery of "the mainstream American discourse," as it relates to performance art) that we needed to focus on talking about performance with our broader art community. We do this by organizing educational events and exhibitions, including independent research and traveling as much as possible.
If we miss this weekend where might we see you next?
Well, Ali and I just returned from the Lone Star Explosion: Houston International Performance Art Biennale. This experience was truly transformational for us and now the only thing we can talk about is opening an art space dedicated exclusively to performance art. We have begun to look at spaces in the Deep Ellum/Fair Park. Our goal is to open this summer. So, you can see me there!