Traces of a past life

[Putting the last few words and videos I have from my brightest years as a performance artist here. How tremendously far away they, this I, feel. Making it a “post” instead of a “page,” date-stamped, scroll-lost, faded even more. I almost just left it off the new site entirely, but this is better. A little midnight prayer as the new site launches and the old one is consigned to the Wayback Machine. Sending such mettā and intimate joy to my friends and community in these arts worlds. I hope to always know you, and I’m grateful for every hour we spent in this inquiry together. (Sean 2019)]

“Luminous is this mind”: immersive participatory installation (2014) 
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Immersion in darkness is revered in the Buddhist tradition as a powerful support for seeing and understanding the nature of one’s own heart and mind. In Luminous Is This Mind, audience members are invited to join Sean in a specially-constructed space for a 15 minute “dark retreat”, which could include meditation, conversation, movement, song, or healing ritual, personalized for each participant. The piece was generously supported by Yerba Buena as part of their Field of Inquiry: Body Politic program.

The Midnight Club (2011-12)
UC Davis

The Midnight Club was an experiment in intention, a piece of devised theater that held no end goal outside the relational: that a group of people be given an appropriate and safe container to fall in love with each other. This is implicit in some theater, and part of why many of us love the form, but rarely the explicit goal of the work. I recognize the secondary nature of both the form and content of a piece of performance, foregrounding the relational and political.

In this video it’s obvious, maybe, that it doesn’t represent the experience of the piece itself at all. It never could, of course. But this one is for sure a different creature; a different project for a different audience. With a piece oriented around relationships, who am I, are we, now, as I watch these images? What connection do I have to who we were then? I can already feel the film yellowing (which of course this film never will), becoming grainier, decaying: decay as my life slips further from these moments, decay as we grow older and accumulate new images on top of these in our hearts. Distance is the most palpable sensation. So documentation in the end is a gesture in relation to time. It creates the past. Actually I like this. Dim, slow, grainy, and the perception of loss, distance, time. Making the video, I am remembering things we did, noticing others for the first time, editing for snappy lines and any visuals at all apparent through the dim light, performing the past. Writing the past. Really, I just like us. Which was always exactly the point.

Circo Zero, Sol Niger (2008)
Theatre Artaud, SF

I made this piece with Keith Hennessy’s company, Circo Zero, in Residence at Les Subsistences in Lyon, and the Centre Choreographique National in Belfort, France. It was a really satisfying project. I won an Isadora Duncan dance award for “Best Sound/Text 2007-8” for the music. Here’s a few excerpts. I’m on piano, mostly, and made the percussion soundtrack in the “hoods” section.

when the heart’s an empty room (2005)
Counterpulse, SF

Here’s a few excerpts from my 2005 “solo” show. So many of my friends and collaborators had left town following the dot-com bust that I was left with few familiar peers. I asked several friends to film themselves dancing, wearing white. I edited the videos and made live music for them, then danced myself, trying to feel our connections over the distance, through space and time, through the fibers of our connection as friends, community, remembering bodies I know so well.

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