Being Present

installation, four 7 min performances, youtube videos, 2019

Performed in three seamless parts over four evenings, Being Present consists of a physical revealing, a revelatory reading, and a re-concealing. Before entering the gallery, which is arranged like a living room, the audience is asked to remove their shoes. Bernard begins by removing her jewelry, followed by her clothing in what is effectively an introduction to the invisibility of life as a person with chronic illness. She reveals a frail, pale body not immediately recognizable as such while clothed. Viewers are confronted as they view her body through their phone cameras to record the performance, adding an additional layer of perception to what may already be an inaccurate preconception about performance, as well as the (dis)abled body. Transitioning to the second part of the performance, Bernard moves to a chair from her own home and creates distance from the traditionally sterile white walls of the gallery space as she begins to read from her diary, paying homage to (dis)abled artist Bob Flanagan. In this way, Bernard makes the private public. Concluding, she closes her journal and re-dresses, once again covering her body and concealing her illness. Bernard leaves the room as viewers lower their phones.  – Danielle Moon Cunningham


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Out Front Magazine, Being Exhibition

images (c) Erynn McConnell