Bridget Moser

Freak on a Leash (2016)


Documentation of performance on June 16th, 2016, at Western Front, Vancouver.

Boom na da noom na na nema
Da boom na da noom na namena
Da boom na ba noom na namena
Da boom na da noom na namena
Da boom na ba noom na namena
Da boom na da noom na namena
Da boom na ba noom na namena
Da boom na da noom na namena
Da boom na ba noom na namena
Da boom na da noom na namena
Da boom na ba noom na namena
Da boom na da noom na namema
GO ! [1] [2]

We're on the way to the penthouse and she's on the ground floor. It's like, get on the elevator, it works. It's time to move further afield of that wretched basement. I just like to come here; I just like to be myself; I just like to imagine my entire personality sitting before me on a bun; I just like to wonder, would I even eat it? What is that, I have nothing except a body. Don't talk to me or my son ever again.

Notes

[1] "By effectively "speaking in tongues," [Jonathan] Davis is giving voice to his inner basic feelings which are trying to resist being shaped or conditioned by utterances of others. The discourse of emotion and the body is vague and unformed, unable to be packaged and concretized into words shared by language-users in a set of conventions. Since emotion and feeling cannot be strictly defined, they cannot be re-defined.

[2] [...] In the face of complete hopelessness, the very presence of new metal indicates a refusal to give up. Faced with the apparent fact that nothing said can possibly have any meaning, new metal continues to speak. Some lyrics, like Korn's, cling to the fact that directionlessness and lack of meaning can be articulated." - David Lloyd on Korn's Freak on a Leash in "Mercury Models: Distortion of Language and Identity in New Heavy Metal"





Bodily Articulations in the Age of the Mail-order Poodle Watering Can
Allison Collins

What does Post-Internet [1] performance look like? Categorically speaking, it could be a genre determined by its non-linear approach to content - a flattened terrain of action that reconfigures both silly and serious news from the world as quickly as it can be refreshed. Bridget Moser's practice incorporates just such a non-hierarchical approach, taking on subcultural and mainstream source materials simultaneously, giving them equal weight and creating a playground for infinite reconfiguration. The work Moser createsβ€”body actions, acting, dance-like movement, a choreography of objects, gatherings of soundtracks and ironic comedic propositioningβ€” becomes a relay race of skits, a format embodying the myraid references and articulations that accumulate in our brains day after day. Formally echoing a hundred open tabs or a stream of YouTube clips, her deadpan contemporary vaudville stars the artist as an interpreter for a seemingly endless world of source material transformed into elevator pitches laden with memes, truncated cultural references, sly emotional propositions and conditional statments about contemporary forms of stimulation.

The present performance, Freak on a Leash is the latest Moser has developed after reconsidering her early material practice. Each uniquely developed for the context of their presentation, her live works solve a problem that lingered in the old gallery- based process of depositing objects in the gallery. Even with all possible links to assemblage or the lineage of the coneptual and the readymade, installations seemed only to offer the artist only a poor stand-in for the ideas and impulses that brought them together. Desiring to push beyond a formally arbitrary set of propositions, Moser arrived at physical activation as the missing essential ingredient in her work. A crucial Banff residency (Experimental Comedy Training Camp led by Michael Portnoy with Ieva MisevičiΕ«tΔ—) reinforced Moser's decision to embrace live propositions as her primary mode of address. The aims of her practice have since become intrinsically rooted in the basic need of a performer to bring out an affective connection with the viewer. You could say it is her way of coping with our present condition, where an encyclopedic stream of inputs from REDDIT to ubuweb to the Guardian to James Joyce can come to gain equal traction within artistic traditions of movement and bodily practice. Using a deft wit as her filter, she sifts through the endless barrage of inputs, finding subtle ways to subvert the position of a typical consumer, so that finally she embraces the mudane (a chair) the kitschy (pink pants) and the obviously strange (a plastic poodle watering can) with equal measures of imagination.

Depsite borrowing deeply from prop comedy and traditional theatre in certain aspects of her methodology, Moser remains comfortable with the articulation of meaninglessness, resisting the urge to repeat forumlaic narrative arcs. She is meanwhile able to keep us morphing along with her as she shifts between guilty pleasures and sincere research. Her balancing act is maintained through careful choreography (soundtrack, props and actions) and her ability to act as a conduit for all manner of accumulated thoughts and feelings.

Watching her perform, I realize I have never been quite as heartened by public displays of social anxiety and consumer overload, which is perhaps because when Moser enters the stage, she demonstrates no fear, only a comradery, and a reassurance that we are all up together at night watching hours of Netflix, refusing to open our mail, or Googling our own name. She rolls out all our favourite gimmicks and tricks, allowing them to accumulate to stimulate amuseument and prompt self-reflection, or maybe just acceptance.

Within Moser's articulations we are offered the chance to be together, in the inexplicable age of the mail order poodle watering can, and not only is it going to be alright, it's going to be one hell of a show.

[1] Post-Internet practices have been elsewhere articulated as: "inherently informed by ubiquitous authorship, the development of attention as currency, the collapse of physical space in networked culture, and the infinite reproducibility and mutability of digital materials." Arte Vierkant "The Image Object Post Internet," http://jstchillin.org/artie/pdf/The_ Image_Object_Post-Internet_us.pdf