Conceived in 2009, Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions is Small's performative incarnation of her still photographic series. The film below is a 25-minute excerpt from the most recent performance, which took place in NYC in Spring 2011 at the landmarked Williamsburg Savings Bank building, now known as Skylight One Hanson. The performance brought together 120 participants, setting the precedent for all future productions.
Most Recent Tableau Vivant Performance, Skylight One Hanson ♦ New York City 2011
Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions celebrates humanity by representing a visual and sonic encyclopedia of the human condition. Part homage to the history of art, part joyous communion, part party, part radical experiment, Small’s Tableaux reveal the evolutionary process of creating art and community, contemplating raw and poignant truths about humankind’s timeless yearning to find connection within ourselves and with one another.
The project mounts a unique, process-oriented and participant-driven theatrical experience in diverse communities across the globe, enlisting local talent and non-performers alike to create a self-revealing celebration of image, sound, and unity, via contemporary, multi-disciplinary performance art.
By engaging local and global communities simultaneously, Small’s performances instigate forward movement, fostering authentic expression to perpetuate social change. Her artistic process reaches the young and the elderly, people of all classes and backgrounds; non-artists and artists alike, promoting individuality within community. Small provides a platform for real-life contact and creation, opposing our current societal trends toward technological insularity, and generating a dialogue of safe, close, cultural interpersonal connection.
The performance itself is a 75-minute, 120-body event, derived from the processes and methods of Small’s still photographic series, The Delirium Constructions. Incorporated into the larger framework of a 4-5 hour audience-integrating nightlife experience, performances begin in silence and stillness, as the audience confronts a static composition: a stack of human forms. As the performance unfolds, these forms come to life, singly and in groups, alternating between static pose and surging gesture. Music emerges, evolving into choral harmonies; visual relationships are born and torn asunder; tension rises, only to dissipate. Finally, the performance melts into the crowd, eliminating the boundaries between the observer and the observed.
Unlike traditional theatre, the art of Tableau is rooted in the identities and interactions of the people involved— most of whom have little or no experience in live performing arts of any kind. They are a “self-selecting” community, and the content is drawn from their personal histories and rapidly developing relationships with each other— in turn eliminating the artifice of “acting.”
Tableau is performance, tip-toeing on the edge of immersive theatre. It is music, incorporating classical aria, local folk song, choral drones, and string instruments. It is dance, juxtaposing organic, arrhythmic gesture with choreographed movement. It is visual spectacle, as one-hundred-twenty people pose and move in a range of costume: historical dress, contemporary fashion, and nakedness. Finally, it is experiment; together, creating moments of truly original, highly improbable intimacy.