JUNE 3, 2010: DEAR SHERRYby Christine Hou
You are the stuff girls love. Southern hospitality, pink lattes, candies, hearts, and balloons. I saw you last night along with my friends at Triple Canopy at 177 Livingston: Sherry tries on Cinderella.
I loved the way you decorated the place: a white mantle piece, the circular wooden stage, an enormous heart made of glitter outlined with kitchen knives, and the table stocked with goodies from previous performances. I especially liked your rendition of Kanye West’s “Amazing” and your break dancing gymnastic moves to Akon’s “Smack That.” It was Hillary Clinton, Oprah, and Lisa Frank in a group therapy remix session. Sherry, I am convinced that you would throw the perfect birthday party celebration.
You mentioned that the audience has gotten smaller every time you perform because people are afraid to be part of the show. But isn’t it the audience that makes the show? What we bring to it? “It’s nothing but what it is…there’s no deepness,” you said. I feel liberated from my search for meaning behind the work. You give us a space to respond; our presence is just as important as yours. You are brutally honest and aggressive—projecting feminism without becoming self-righteous about it. You make us feel uncomfortable, but isn’t it important for us to step outside of our comfort zone?
Have you read Kathy Acker? She reminds me of you. Acker inserts her voice into popular literary texts—kind of like what you did with Snow White in 2007 and what you’re going to do with Cinderella at the end of the summer in some abandoned warehouse in New Jersey. In one of her essays, she writes: “Is it possible that by fantasizing we love each other, we can love each other? Fantasy is or makes possibilities. Are possibilities realities?” Do you fantasize about loving other people? Are you Sherry and Ann Liv Young? Is Ann Liv Young a fantasy?
I’m writing not to discuss philosophical quandaries surrounding performance art, but rather to talk about last night. I feel like the performance should really be about my experience with the piece, and not psychoanalyzing you and what you’re trying to do. For the initial, getting-to-know-you-type exercise, I wrote down my name and one of my biggest fears, calories (which is why I couldn’t have one of your pink lattes). However, in my fantasy I can eat all the candies and drink all the pink lattes without being concerned with what it does to my body. I can act like my 6-year-old self, cover myself in lots of rainbow glitter, and sing all my favorite pop songs—you bring this out of me.
Sherry, I see you as a fantasy that has become a reality.
Christine Hou is a poet and arts writer living in Brooklyn.