Things a Person is Supposed to Wonder—A curatorial statement by Jordan Tannahill
December 12, 2016
There is a ladder onstage. A young woman in a white t-shirt and black sweatpants enters.
“Oh good, you’re here,” she tells the ladder, before pushing it over. It clatters to the floor.
“You’re late.” The audience bursts out laughing.
In her piece Real Estates, using the ladder as her solitary prop, Toronto-based performance artist Bridget Moser recites a fractured and lyrical monologue in which she transforms the ladder into an incorrigible boyfriend, a glass house full of ennui, and a Sisyphean burden on her back. At one point, crouched below the ladder as a synthesizer plays a contemplative melody, she intones: “It’s kind of a… bad luck way to live.” Moments of pathos and humour in Moser’s work arise from the friction between her virtuosity and ineptitude. On one hand, Moser’s writing is full of disarming turns of phrase and poetic insight (“I’m drowning in a sea of Hamlets! All indecisive and infested with ghosts. And me worst of all”), and her imaginative reconfiguration of simple props is nothing short of thrilling. Moser sees objects like the child who can see a river, say, in an unfurled blue yoga mat. On the other hand, through the breakdown of theatrical illusion, we never stop being aware of the ladder as a ladder or Moser as a performer. Rather than attempting to realistically portray the melancholy of her unnamed protagonist, it was the disconnect between the poetic longing of Moser’s text and the emphatic deadpan of her delivery that suddenly and unexpectedly moved me.
The above writing begins the chapter ‘Beckett’s Children’ in my book Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama, in which I talk about how Bridget is among a vanguard of artists—spanning dance, theatre, and performance art—who are embracing the spectre of failure as a primary aesthetic and conceptual departure point in their work. The simple truth is: I have a huge art crush on Bridget. As does Toronto, and pretty much everyone who encounters her work. Her vaguely narrative performances elicit sensations of being slightly “off” or unreconciled. They feature props and set pieces in states of becoming or collapse. They access humour and produce pathos through the haphazard and awkward. They reveal moments of beauty and insight to be the tenuous constructions that they are by allowing them to fall apart. For Club PuSh 2017, Things a Person is Supposed to Wonder is Bridget’s collection of some of her and my favourite pieces from her singular body of work.
Club PuSh Curator-in-Residence
Bridget Moser performed in Vancouver earlier in 2016 at the Western Front to a sold-out crowd. Catch her again when she performs Things a Person is Supposed to Wonder, at Club PuSh at The Fox Cabaret on January 21. Buy tickets now before they sell out!