Mikiki

NSA

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PHOTOS by Henry Chan

Mikiki’s work is difficult and demanding for its audience. It is the kind of performance that challenges visibility, being as much about how your body responds to what you see as what you see, or don’t…

When we come into the space Mikiki is piling raw cabbages into a pyramid in the corner, using a green tape that accentuates the fleshiness of the vegetable. They pull down their pants, raise their shirt and lay their exposed torso on the mound. The sound of the waxy leaves rubbing against each other under the weight of their body is striking. After some time, they rise and walk over to a few gathered jars of sauerkraut. One by one, they empty the contents into Ziploc bags, first shoving their hand into the glass jars to pull out fist-fulls of soggy preserved cabbage and then emptying the jar’s remaining juices into the bag. They move their hand in and out of the vessels in the same manner you push a hand into a body and by the second jar, the sound of skin against wet glass is combined with the pungent smell of sauerkraut. The cabbage, in both forms, is or was a lover.

All but one of the sealed bags are lined up on the tabletop and Mikiki moves to the pile of books and movies on the other end. I notice, and appreciate, that the spines are covered in the same green tape. Mikiki has clearly chosen not to give us access to everything, perhaps for the sake of privacy, or intimacy. Regardless, this will be a recurring strategy in the performance. A number of key actions will be sheltered from our gaze, and reserved for the artist. I get it, and don’t mind the loss of meaning it risks. This is clearly not about us. One by one, the books are put into plastic bags and a bag of sauerkraut is poured on top of the protected pile, left to slowly drip throughout the rest of the performance.

Back at the sauerkraut side, Mikiki slides their hands under the wood table and pulls out the medical equipment they will use to remove a vial of blood from their left arm. However, their back is to us the whole time. We do not see them draw blood so much as we deduce the action from the tools, gestures, and the flash of red. After squirting the blood into their eyes, they stand in the centre of the room with thin red lines running down their face and direct all their attention inwards. While I can’t be sure exactly what is going on, it fascinates me in its gestural minimalism and inaccessibility. It is hypnotizing. Or maybe it is them who is hypnotized. Someone in the audience passes out. It’s evocative to watch but not easy.

Back at the book side, Mikiki again sits, grabs a hold of the corner and lifts the table. They slide their hands under the wood surface and pulls out a long turquoise dress they will let slowly settle in a pile on the bags of preserved cabbage. The first act comes to a close.

Mikiki takes the mic and proceeds with the lecture phase of the performance. It’s casual, less of a seminar than a very informal, although somewhat confessional, monologue. Something about their complicated feelings about Hakim Bey’s pedophilia, about being an apologist, about nihilist self-sabotage, about political movements… My notes are shit, the scribbles of someone paying attention and being in the moment. Sorry about that.

Finally the video Mikiki has made, a slow-motion shot of the bathtub drain during an enema, is digitally located and screened. More blood goes into their eyes and they retake position in centre-stage. Then we are asked to leave so that they may finish the performance by themself. I put on my coat to go outside and let them finish this third and last act alone.

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