In the push-pull between hostility and tenderness, hostility dominates the stage for the majority of Home Made, a work by Portland-based company tEEth, under the direction of Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft. Inside the Mouth at Zoomtopia, stretched white fabric frames the space and expands across the floor with a raised and illuminated lump in the middle created by the bodies of Keely McIntyre and Noel Plemmons. Live video feed from under the giant sheet appears on the wall, and as the morphing shape of the sheet from the outside remains elegant and mysterious, the video images from beneath reveal raw footage of a hairy armpit here, a fold of skin there.
Initially tender moments of cuddled faces swiftly transition to awkward angles of a jaw, a veined forearm, feet caressed against each other. Like a cave painting, distorted silhouettes elongate, lit from under the sheet. They align with the pure, sustained vocals sung by Luke Matter and Cali Ricks, who are present onstage. Following the skin revealed in the video from beneath he sheet, the fully clothed duo emerges as a surprise. Mcintyre and Plemmons exchange silent screams, grotesquely reaching into one another’s open mouths, and then trade vocal calls during loud static demonstrating a missed connection.
Sharply focused, McIntyre and Plemmons remove their clothes, although the stripping of attire does not create a significant change in the movement or relationship. That movement entails aggressive body locks and poking at orifices—the ear, the navel—accompanied by quick shifts from loving facial expressions to pained gestures of physical suffering. The shifts are, at times, too swift to be authentic, translating as caricatures of emotion.
Perhaps most satisfying are the strong sculptural images, notably those involving the white fabric. As McIntyre stands firmly on the crumpled fabric, Plemmons drags the sheet, moving the statuesque female figure. At another point Plemmons’ face is obscured by the crumpled fabric, instilling the disconnected communication between the two, despite their intimate orientation and vulnerable bodies.
When the performers stand neutral and clothed again, the audience has witnessed too much to see the couple as harmonious. Hostility permeates the final image of the two in an upright composed posture, unresolved and dark at the edges.
SEE IT: Home Made plays 8:30 pm Wednesday-Thursday, Sept. 14-15 at The Mouth at Zoomtopia, 810 SE Belmont St., 224-7422, pica.org. $20. PICA's Time-Based Art Festival continues through Sept. 18.
Julie Potter is a dance artist, writer, arts manager and yoga teacher based in San Francisco’s Mission District.