Sunday, January 9, 2011


I was lucky enough to go see at HERE arts center, for their show Phobophilia. I was even luckier to have worked with them over the summer in Chiapas, Mexico for the Art and Resistance course I took.

In the workshop over the summer, my mind went places that I hadn't felt in a long time. The 2 boyz took us and blind folded us-- put our hands on someone's shoulder in front of us, and made us walk the streets of Chiapas, for what seemed like an eternity. At first, my thoughts raced-- I was scared I was going to fall, I kept kicking the person in front of me and everything seemed so strange without being able to see. After maybe 15 minutes, I relinquished those thoughts and became free. The experiential evidence that I was able to walk blind folded, the trust we all felt holding on to each other and the intensified sounds and sensations were intoxicating. My mind seemed like a blank canvas, in which I could place anything or anyone. I felt unstoppable.

Without the forced imagery of vision, imagination took over.

When I read the synopsis of Phobophilia (the love of Fear) I knew it would be somewhat similar, but definitely not the same.

Entering the theatre, we were all asked to wait in the lobby. We were then escorted to the basement where ushers took our coats and jackets. At this point, I was already happy at the subversion of the audience-performer relationship. All of us were then blindfolded, and put our hands on the person in front of us. Except this time, we were all strangers. It felt weird. The feeling of fear, tripping, not knowing where I was going consumed me again. When I got to my seat, I felt relieved. I was also a bit sad, it didn't last longer, which made me think, do I love fear too?

Fear does have somewhat of an intoxicating, pressing, teasing feeling to it.

In the the theatre we see a male, his head covered in black cloth and his arms extended out, like that of Abu Ghraib. He is wearing plain clothes. He is visibly uncomfortable, wavering back and forth, the tension in his arms physically weighing him down.

I empathized with him as a performer. It looked uncomfortable and painful.

After everyone was seated a mirage of images and sound flooded the stage. Helicopters, screams, dogs, doors, could never be quite sure, the cacophonous sound blending into unknown zones of discomfort.

Video images were projected onto a black box. The brilliant, adept and creative use of projection proved intensely watchable.

A voice questions in the background in French....the performer answers in French and English. It is reminiscent of the interrogation methods we know too well.

Phobophilia was definitely an experience not to be missed. An innovative, questioning look at ourselves and relationships with fear. A comment on the politics of modern day and the encapsulating fear we face in our daily lives.