A review of museum pioneer Nina Simon's new book, The Art of Relevance.
Wonder. It’s something we long for, isn’t it? I do, at least. That’s why when I saw the ad for the Wonder exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in DC, I had to go. What an audacious and somewhat unimaginative title: Wonder. What kind of a curatorial tour de force could justify such a choice?
This week we interviewed Stacy Muszinsky, who was a participant in the Odyssey Works 2007 production The Moveable Feast in Austin, TX.
Odyssey Works: What was it like to bleed the boundaries of your real life with that of the performance?
Stacy Muszinsky: Surreal and moving and rather frightening and ecstatic and cathartic and unforgettable.
OW: HOW WAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED AFTER YOUR ODYSSEY? HOW DID THE ODYSSEY AFFECT YOUR LIFE?
SM: The Odyssey itself was a wild and strange catalyst, bleeding between performance and reality. I remember having to focus on breathing sometimes, looking at my hands, to calm myself, to ground myself, to feel private and not blown apart, wide open for the world. That said, the whole of it was exhilarating and unhinging. I was dazed for some time immediately after Odyssey, unsure what was real and what was performance, as if the piece continued into life. I felt alternately giddy and sad. Odyssey injected a sense of serious play in my life. I birthed a child three years ago; the experience isn't unlike my Odyssey -- a cosmic joke -- a strange and surreal experience guided by what I can't say toward what end I'm not exactly sure. Same wild, scary, beautiful ride that I am one thankful mother to be on.
OW: Most performances ask that you sit and watch. Odyssey Works requires you to engage fully. How did that requirement change your experience of the performance and did it continue to affect you afterward?
SM: The Odyssey inhabited me utterly. I had no idea from moment to moment what to expect, would happen, how I would behave. Everything was of the moment. I felt safe and unsafe in the same instant. I felt an intricate fabric in the weave of the entire experience while, in the same instant, feeling as if I were unraveling, unraveled, naked.
Perhaps I said something good and useful in the recap video after the performance when I was sitting next to Doug. I remember getting weepy again when I talked about it.
When the climax of the performance hit, I fell completely apart -- or together. I mean, I cry at any good climax -- story or sex -- but this one... I was wracked by the connection, the letting go, the release. I could not stop crying. Weeping, actually. Not the same style of weeping I did when I learned my mother unexpectedly died, but the weeping I expect I'll do when I meet her again at the end of my life. It was a catharsis so deep, so mind-body-spirit connected, I felt intercellularly stoned for weeks. I felt integrated, and I felt connected to every damn thing and every damn one. So right now.
I felt absolutely yes. Clear. Unafraid. Real.
OW: THIS ODYSSEY ENTAILED A GREAT DEAL OF RESEARCH INTO YOUR LIFE. HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE SEEN IN THIS INTIMATE WAY?
SM: Amazing and scary and open and real.
OW: What was most meaningful thing for you during your Odyssey?
SM: Years ago I may have said the most important thing about my Odyssey was sharing it with the others who were on the Odyssey with me. I would have added: Feeling myself breaking down and re-integrating throughout the experience. I would have said experiencing the catharsis of the finale. Being given my life and identity back upon the death of my imposter, all the imposters -- feeling the grace and honesty and weight of that moment, that truth. Feeling, then, at one with everything stitched into that moment -- the sun in sky, the dark-haired actor running up the crushed stone pathway in his flowing white pants and shirt, the cello music, the loved ones gathered around us in that tiny gazebo in the middle of nowhere.
Today, I'd say all that. And: that it happened at all.That it happens at all. It was a gift. It is a gift.
Did I mention painful? It was so beautiful it hurt. Or it hurt so much it was beautiful. I can't parse or separate the two really. It all just really undid me.
OW: Based on this experience, what would you say is the benefit of mixing reality and performance?
SM: Art. Life. Art. Life. It's so impossibly weird and, let me stop crying for a second... so terribly good. Thank you.