Metaformance in Columbus Circle – New York – by Jaival-Reverso – 19th April 2015
A tribute to the Lenape native americans who first populated the area now called Manhattan, prior to and alongside colonial alignments.
by Jaime del Val
It’s a cold, windy, cloudy, moisty evening of early spring in NYC. Columbus circle is deserted of bypassers. In the corner of Central Park, where stands the monument to the US soldiers fallen in the Spanish-American war, an alien creature moves.
Alien bride or posthuman cocoon, wearing an amorphous and mutant Metadress of translucent material that covers an almost legible naked body that could be human but isn’t quite, emitting a landscape of amorphous sounds, an expanded, electronically processed voice, while projecting on the monument and floor images of an alien skin, amorphous body landscapes seen through surveillance cameras placed on the skin, microsexes that touch and caress, deform, entertaining a multilayered dialogue with the surrounding architectures.
Columbus circle has multilayered imperial metanarratives built in and around it: on the one hand the monument to Columbus expressing the expansion of the Spanish empire in the centre. Near it, in the Central Park corner, stands the monument to the US soldiers fallen in the 1898 war with Spain which represented the end of the Spanish empire as well as announcing the rise of the US empire which still pervades today in a multipolar world of reverse colonisations in which Spain is colonised by US culture while goods are produced in China, the emergent superpower.
Another corner of Columbus circle shows a giant, 5 meters wide silvery sphere representing the globe, the geometric reduction of the Earth, the totalising vision of the planted as grid, which stands at the foot of a skyscraper, the Trump Internationl Hotel, Donald Trump being a millionaire known for the building and estate industry, a major modern colonisation industry, while the corner opposite to Central Park is occupied by a luxury shopping centre, hotel and luxury apartments owned by stars and millionaires.
The USS Maine Monument, representing the victory of the US over Spain, the end of the last Spanish colonies, and the rise of a new era, is an important monument of national scope (represented by the two colossus at the sides, which stand for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans), at whose front stands the statue of Courage while Justice stands at the back, looking to the Park, with the victory of Columbia (female representation of the US) golden on top, and inscriptions in honor of the soldiers fallen in the Maine. It represents a passage, the fall of an old empire and the rise of a young one. It also enacts forgotten historic tensions between Spain and the US.
The day before Verdi’s opera Don Carlo was being performed at the nearby MET opera, (the empire of the performing arts that is the Lincoln Centre) by some of the greatest singers of the times. This grand Verdi Opera, based on Schiller’s play, enacts multiple conflicts amongst which that between the Spanish empire and the Roman empire represented by the Inquisition and the Church.
Surrounding Columbus circle are the skyscrapers of New York, old and new, tall and super-tall, which tower and rock in multiple layers and scales that defy usual space perceptions, as they start rising from the limit of the park to the glass and steel summits in the clouds.
Multiple layers of power in multiple scales of skyscrapers exposing the capitalist power of the US empire over the last Century. Multiple metanarratives of imperial dominations in the two monuments of Columbus circle.
And in play with these the Metasphere-Microsexes Metaformance as an alien agency, a postmodern Quixote that is opposing even older modes of colonisation: platonic forms, humanistic worldviews, geometries and spheres, species constructs, sex-gender constructs… A multilayered amorphogenetic agency undoing the empire of forms, an empire that pervades, unseen, all other empires.
Posthuman aborigenal, postqueer technoshaman, extraterrestrial metabody, lightfooted and imperceptible, dialoguing perhaps with the previous actions which happened in New York, by artists Joseph Beuys (staying 3 days in a gallery with a coyote, transported to and from the airport by an ambulance, not touching American ground in the performance “I like America and America likes me” in May 1874), Philippe Petit (doing a high-wire walk between the twin towers in August 1974), and Stelarc (doing a street suspension in 1984), artists who suspended their bodies in NY, not touching the ground in their posthuman becomings. Similarly, Jaival arrives as if from another planet exploring the surroundings with its alien perception.
In New York, where also Loïe Fuller had performed over a century ago her multisensorial experiences and body extensions, and after her Isadora Duncan, this “world capital of dance” and the arts where Guerrilla Girls have become gorillas, where Stonewall riots launched the modern queer movements, where the Surveillance Camera Players have performed for the ubiquitous eyes of control, where also street artist Bansky has painted graffities in unexpected sites in tour across the city, here also JaiVal projects its skin, its alien agency and becoming, enacting a metahuman dérive in the city, leaving perhaps no trace, save the echo of potential, indeterminate becomings in the movements of the city’s metabody.
Illegible to locals (the police passes twice right by without stopping or interrupting the action), the creature moves in neobarroque folds of an antigeometry in interplay with the folds of the sculptures of the monuments and the lines of skyscrapers, projecting the post-queer and alien microsexual skin of an expanded hand that seems to touch and explore with alien gestures the walls and ground of the monument, dialoguing with the gestures of the statues, gesturing towards them and away from them, never fully able to imitate them, a dionysian force projecting itself on the statue of Justice, perhaps reminding us of Anaximander, where restoring justice perhaps means restoring the indeterminate.