Laura Arrington wrote on her blog that she's not worried about her work Adult making sense. That's good—because it doesn't. For the piece, now at PICA's Time-Based Art Festival, Arrington draws from a number of inspirations about mortality and the meaning of life. I won't get into them much here because they're pretty heavy (you can start with Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death, if you're interested) and in Adult, none of those ideas are independently accessible.
Instead, Arrington seems content to let those ideas permeate through her body and radiate outward in whatever mode comes naturallyâsex, tap dancing, grand jetÃ©s. You may not pick up on any meaning, but itâs mildly entertaining to watch.
For much of the first 10 minutes, Arrington crawls and rolls on the floor of the The Worksâ boundless Con-way warehouse. Sheâs almost impossible to see, as the lights are off. Sheâs also a good 30 yards away from the audience, who are seated on wooden risers and beanbags on the floor as if at a slumber party. One of the few signs sheâs moving is the clack of her tap shoes echoing against the walls.
The next scene is a 20-minute foreplay session between Arrington and creative partner Jesse Hewit on a folding table. Still in near darkness and not fully visible, they feel each other up and gradually take off their clothes before rolling off the table and crawling away. Then Hewit sits in a chair and blows on a French horn.
After a brief intermission and a free serving of wine, whiskey and Cocoa Puffs, the audienceâs seats are rearranged to face the opposite wall. This stage is much closer and eventually, much more well-lit. Arrington, wearing turquoise tape in the shape of eyebrows and sideburns, begins reciting W.H. Auden's âMusÃ©e des Beaux Artsâ while a recording of that poem also plays over the speaker. Then she starts yelling unintelligibly at the audience in a heavy English accent. Hewit, now cloaked in silver tinsel, thrashes beneath the shiny strands, wailing like a toddler throwing a tantrum. The meaning of this, if I had to guess, is what Becker said is the âattempt by the child to deny the anxiety of his emergence,â basically psychoanalyst-speak for recognizing your own vulnerability.
Hewit, especially, embodies this idea well. He is so committed to his wild-eyed character, that for a second the piece becomes cathartic. It grants permission to live without boundaries or fear of critique, which is certainly what he and Arrington do here.