Featured Long Durational Work
EVOLVER ROPE (2011), ALICE VOGLER
Duration: 23.5 hours
Cover photograph by Vela Phelan
For two years, performance artist Alice Vogler was the co-owner and curator of the MEME gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The gallery closed in May of 2011, with one of its closing performances by Vogler herself. For "Evolver Rope," the artist sat in a chair in front of the windows of the gallery for 23.5 hours beginning at 7pm on May 13th. At night, the room was lit by three single lightbulbs plugged into the wall. The bulbs lay on the floor next to a stack of toilet paper and mason string. For the duration of the performance, the artist wound the string around the toilet paper, creating a rope.
As time went on, the rope grew longer and longer, until eventually Vogler ran out of mason string and was forced to replace it by tearing up a table cloth left over from a previous performance. At 5:30pm the following day, the rope was finished and Vogler lay in it before wrapping it around her body. When the audience arrived, she rose and began reciting the names of all the shows that had happened at MEME over the course of two years while unwrapping herself. When reached the end, the rope was revealed to be tied to her waist, reminiscent of an umbilical chord. She cut it off at 6:30pm on May 14th, after 23.5 hours in the gallery space.
The following is an excerpt from Vogler’s account of the performance:
...It slowly grows. The action becomes easier, more fluid. Norfolk Street comes and visits me all night, looking through the windows. Offering me kindness, alcohol, water, tea, praise, love all nightlong. In the early morning hours I am alone. No one walks by. The rope is still growing. People stop, they look. Some for a second, some for a few minutes, some longer. The rope keeps growing. I can close my eyes now and make it; the action is in my hands, out of my head... It is about 5:30pm now. I am done making the rope. I move the chair out of the space. I organize the extra toilet paper, the empty toilet paper rolls, and the empty water bottles, in the back of the space. I make a pile with the rope. [...] I wake up. Dirk Adams and Vela Phelan help me to wrap the rope around MEME. It is my umbilical cord, connecting me to MEME. Alison Adams helps to wrap the rope around me. I am tired. I am not thinking very clearly. People start to arrive, coming into the space. I begin reciting all of the shows we have had at MEME. Trying to remember them all. I ask for everyone’s help. We have had over 200 artists at MEME over the last two years. I am slowly untangling myself from the rope. It is slowing falling to the floor. It is revealed that the end is tied around my waste. I cut it. Letting go. Releasing MEME. It is hard. It is 6:30pm on May 14th.
Alice Vogler will be performing at the second Venice International Performance Art Week: Ritual Body - Political Body, curated by VestAndPage on December 13 through December 20, 2014. To read more about this event, click here.