|project statement | credits | narration script|
The Surveillance Solos are designed, through a combination of farce and stark honesty, to question, in a world where so much information is easily accessible, just what can be considered private or intimate, and how quickly small deviations from "normal" behavior become suspicious. Four solos based on surveiling the quotidian habits of the dancers Carol McDowell, Taisha Paggett, Christine Suarez and Ally Voye, intertwine and accrue meaning over the course of the evening, drawing the principal observing agent into the lives of her subjects until she is caught performing the motions she has studied.
I began work on The Surveillance Solos in early 2007, after listening to NPR coverage of the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping. Responding to the illegal surveillance, one after the other, American citizens proffered, "Well, if you have nothing to hide..." After four years of a supposedly more liberal administration in Washington, American artists and citizens must remain vigilant about our civil rights. President Obama continues to prosecute the "war on terror", relying on bills such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which he rushed back to Washington to sign during the presidential campaign) to surveil both foreign and American nationals. the Patriot Act, with its myriad infringements on our right to privacy, has been renewed. Simultaneously, more and more personal information about each one of us is easily accessible with a few strokes on the keyboard (or blackberry) as we conduct more of our lives in cyberspace. More than ever, we as citizens have less we can hide, and are thus left painfully vulnerable to our own government's infringements on our personal choices.
To make the solos, I worked one on one with the dancers. We began with conversations about these issues in general, following each dancer's life experiences to come up with a specific topic for her to explore. The dancer then spent some time surveiling herself. This surveillance material became the text for the piece. Movement generation also came from this initial process, and was tailored to each dancer.
In the evening-length work, the text is read by an onstage narrator: an agent-bureaucrat presenting this case to the audience. A film of FBI files (based on grandmother's and father's 1950s and 1960s era FBI files) is projected onto the back wall. The dancers move in front of and through the projection, emphasizing and disappearing pieces of information about themselves as they dance their lives.