By Jessica Karuhanga

Avant Niagara Falls

DOYON/DEMERS (Hélène Doyon and Jean-Pierre Demers), Avant Niagara Falls 7a*11d 2016 PHOTO Henry Chan

We return to our seats to witness Avant Niagara Falls. This enactment is part one of two symbiotic gestures of a vision. The companion performance, Après Niagara Falls, will materialize next week. Waterfalls are a magnificent source of charging energy with constantly looping current. A desk sits in the centre of the performance space. We are seated in rows before this table and behind it loops a video-projection of a spiral. The spiral movement is synched with hallucinatory sounds. Heavy breathing from an invisible source is being amplified through speakers. The spiral is a pulse. Doyon/Demers emerge from stage left. Demers is wearing a red blouse with short sleeves. Doyon is wearing a white blouse and plastic zip ties in her hair. I assume based solely on the signs we have been given thus far they are simulating antennae. Doyon/Demers hold hands as they walk. Their clasp is loose, gentle, trusting. I cannot recall a moment when they were not touching in some capacity. They saunter to the other side of the stage and he kneels. She sits on his raised knee. They kiss and tongues slide between their sighs and saliva. They walk toward the other side of the stage holding hands while trying to resist groping each other. He kneels. She sits on his knee. They move toward the table in the centre of the room. They take objects out of a bag and place them on the table. These objects are baseball caps, butcher knives, and electrical muscle stimulation machines (EMS). They give in to desire and begin unbuttoning each others shirts with sensuous urgency. Their upper arms bear traces of grey residue from medical tape. They carefully cover these traces with new electrodes. They place the knives in their belts. They turn on the EMS machines and their movement begins to shift. They give in to charged impulses while also letting go. Their hands gripping the knives and each other’s hands tighten. They appear to be in a trance. It looks as though the knives may fall at any moment. The audience gasps and laughs as the knives fall and are thrown. He takes the zip ties from her hair and ties their arms together. Tightening the noose at their elbows. Tighter still. He tries to cut the zip ties with a dull knife. He tries another. On his third attempt he is successful. They clasp the baseball caps by the lips and gesture to the audience for change. The audience laughs.

DOYON/DEMERS (Hélène Doyon and Jean-Pierre Demers), Avant Niagara Falls 7a*11d 2016 PHOTO Henry Chan
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