katherine behar
katherine behar: this.construction();
art: Get Back to Happy
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Bright red railings and pleated green paper walls define two rooms. In the first, two women, the Onion Ladies, are seated on a light blue couch, steadfastly peeling 200 pounds of white onions. Their smell pervades the space, viscerally impacting the audience and providing a point of sympathetic connection between audience and performers.

In the adjoining room, two female performers sharing a flesh-colored, loop-breasted costume, cooperate to rotate and to continually exchange positions – lying down, and getting back to their feet. Painted white and fuschia and wearing flesh-colored felt butt-shaped hats, the Fleshy Wrestlers perform on a wooly rug atop a table with padded red legs. Beneath it, on two televisions, female performers wear swollen red shorts like exaggerated butts, matching butt-shaped hats, and puffy black "blinders" like Virtual Reality goggles. Stretching and struggling with their bodies, the Butthead Contortionists attempt to see their butts, make their heads touch their butts, or tangle themselves up to the point that their heads and butts become confused.


Ages of the World, a book by the 18th-century Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling, forms the bedrock of my performance installation, Get Back to Happy. Schelling makes a noble (and beautiful) attempt to describe and theorize what the world was like before God became God and Eternity began. Imagining the stagnant potentiality of "time" before Time, he describes how the world felt Before the Origin.

I've conflated Schelling's thought with the idea that today, in the age of Late Capital, we’re trying desperately to recover a lost or stolen Happiness -- a status quo we think is Originary. Modernity answers questions about our origin via Darwin and Freud who respectively find Beginnings in our genitals (butts) and heads. Schelling imagines us rotating in thick, disembodied corporeality. Get Back to Happy "assumes the position" alongside Modernity, trying to escape blindness, virtuality, and our own butts, and retrieve a Happy beginning.