3 hour durational performance, website
The Aviary Design Space, Vancouver, BC
To Hack the Ether: Maidens of the Matrix is a performance art and web-based work comprised of two performative installations–each inspired by a popular female archetype from entertainment media–and their accompanying web pages from my Female Archetypes Database. (Documentation below is of the installation centered around the pop culture archetype of the Barbie Girl) Each archetypal performer sat within a ritualistic circle formed from salt and white candles. Plinths with iPads displaying the websites of each archetype sat next to the installations. The performers, in unison, chanted the Sanskrit Asatoma mantra, for 3 hours. (‘Asatoma sad gamaya, Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya, Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya,’ which translates roughly to ‘Take me from illusion into reality, take me from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge, take me from the fear of death to immortality.’). At one point during the performance, (00:26:49 in video, below) the performers deviated from the traditional mantra for 5 minutes, chanting instead “Asatoma sad gamaya, how long will you take to see beyond the physical form?”, before returning to the traditional chant.
The work highlights the effects of repeating female character archetypes in media on our collective unconscious– the way women are consequently pigeon-holed by others into these archtypal categories (a specific brand of objectification), and the way women consequently view themselves. (The websites present an analysis of women who assume the roles of these characters, and their lived experiences.) The work also examines what these archetypes represent for our collective unconscious in a universal symbolic way–positioning these popular entertainment media characters as a new genre of unconscious archetypes–similar to the Jungian archetypes–that reflect particular psycho-spiritual motifs within our contemporary collective subconscious mind. The piece draws a parallel between the struggle of the Vedic sages who wrote the Asatoma chant, and their lamenting the pain of physical incarnation, with the struggle of modern day, objectified women, existing in a media saturated culture. (What could be a more brutal confrontation of one’s dense physical incarnation than the experience of being objectified, ie. existing as a physical body, and being viewed as strictly that physical shell, nothing more? To be an objectified women, then, is to exist as the pinnacle of that painful physical condition that the Vedic sages were working to liberate themselves from through the Asatoma chant.)