For You, Audience Response: J

J performing 'Circle of Chairs' on the beach. Photo by: Robbie Sweeny. 

J performing 'Circle of Chairs' on the beach. Photo by: Robbie Sweeny. 

From J: 

I am lucky in love, so it's saying quite a lot that I woke up basking in a whole new level of glow. Yesterday was the culmination and conclusion of a brand-new BAE, for Best Audiencing Experience: "For You," crafted over many months by Erika Chong Shuch with Ryan David Tacata, Rowena Richie, and Ghigo DiTommaso. These amazing artists assembled a group of 12 strangers; entered our lives with curiosity, wit, and care; and used what they learned to bring us together in an astonishing day-long performance gift. Highlights included an absurdist street protest ("No Larry No Peace!"), a treasure map, a lone guitarist on the side of a mountain playing into the wind, a dance involving three raccoon puppets, and a rush to the beach at sunset.

I'm both elated and sobered by the scale of the experience these artists created. It will take a while to sink in. Beyond the relief of such concentrated creative joy in our troubled political moment, beyond the technical satisfaction of watching so many moving parts click together, beyond the bliss of beautiful bodies outside in the California springtime, beyond the complicated joys of being explored, this experience has challenged and changed me. It's dismantled my understanding of what can be involved in the act of receiving--and I have considerable practice in that area. I'll be learning from this for a long long time. I am so grateful.

J is a performance theorist and queer historian whose research and teaching focus on embodiment, normativity, and power. J is chair of the Program in Critical Studies at California College of Art and is author of The Heart of Whiteness: Normal Sexuality and Race in America, 1890–1940 (Duke University Press, 2007).