The End of All Resistance
Chelsea Knight, 2010
In this piece, I invited two US army interrogators to teach and role play "emotional interrogation techniques" according to 2006 US Army Field Manual 22-2-3. I then transposed their performance into extended improvisations with two female actors and a married couple in a domestic setting, enacting scenarios based on the interrogators' demonstrations. The work explores interrogation as recognizable and similar to the interactions we engage in every day, and the kinds of performances we use to communicate power.
SCREENING + DISCUSSION
Chelsea Knight with Helene Kazan and Natasha Marie Llorens
February 6th, 7 - 9pm
56 Bogart Street 11206
NML: What relationship do you see between domestic negotiation and military investigation, beyond the fact that power is negotiated? Why put these two modes of discussion together instead of, for example, the job interview or the classroom or the courtroom?
CK: In the classroom or courtroom, power is structured in an official way, everyone knows it. In a family, those relationships are often more slippery and less definable, and sometimes insidious. I think that has a clear parallel with the murkiness of an interrogation where on the one hand there is a clear power dynamic (the interrogator, the parent), but the boundaries are played with, the thresholds are mutable, and manipulation can be more hidden. Language trickles up from the everyday (domestic) to the military, and vice versa. They influence each other, even if it's a hidden influence, one that is not talked about.NML: The placement of bodies in this work struck me as especially significant. Whether people were face-to-face, who was sitting down in the scene, etc. Can you speak to these decisions?
CK: I wanted to highlight false intimacy through the body gestures and relationships; putting bodies close together and then having one tower over the other, or placed in a theater of the round configuration, or a distance shot immediately followed by a close shot. This is accomplished both through how the bodies negotiate with each other (I gave parameters but it's improvised), and through handheld camera work, which was both directed and improvised.
NML: What kind of gender dynamic were you going for here? Between genders, but also between men in the interrogation scenes?
I wanted to mirror the male-male "official war" scenario with a same-sex, amplified "cop-show" power dynamic between female actresses, and to have the husband/wife pairing be exposed as constructed vs. "natural" or even heteronormative. In a way, everyone has equal power. Roles switch, language shifts, and just when you are settled into one kind of gender power dynamic, it moves out of register. When one actress says to another "A man like you shouldn't be here" she is queering an official gendered position, ventriloquizing its implications, and indexing a male-centric or "official" point of view.
Chelsea Knight was born in Vermont and lives and works in New York. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College and her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Knight completed residencies at the Whitney Independent Study Program (2010) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2008), and was a Fulbright Fellow in Italy (2007). Solo exhibitions and performances include: The St. Louis Art Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, Aspect Ratio Gallery (Chicago), Momenta Art (Brooklyn), and Night Gallery (with Elise Rasmussen). Knight has exhibited and screened her work in group shows including Nouvelles Vagues at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Anti-Establishment at Bard CCS Hessel Museum, the Young Artists' Biennial (Bucharest), and the 10th Annual Istanbul Biennial. Knight will be a Spring 2015 Artist in Residence at the New Museum (NYC).
Work courtesy the artist and Aspect Ratio Gallery, Chicago, IL