Being Present

Installation, four 7 min performances, youtube videos*, 2019

As Danielle Cunningham describes, “The performance happens in three 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. For each mini-performance, Bernard begins by removing her jewelry, followed by her clothing in what is effectively an introduction to the invisibility of life as a chronically ill person. 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. 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.”

image documentation courtesy of Erynn McConnell

*most of the YouTube videos have been taken down due to the nature of the videos.


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