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Inside)(Outside: A guide to Dallas performance art for the uninitiated

[Image: Andi Harman]

A woman is lying on the floor of an 8th St loft space in Oak Cliff like a sacrifice, seemingly possessed. Streams of thick white light shine from a lamp straight down into her open throat and then refract out the other end in strings of color. Her eyelids are still, wrists limp against the floor. Her knees are bent, spread just enough to allow a rainbow to escape from between her legs and spiderweb into the room. Not touching her is impossible—the room can barely be entered without climbing over or under the colored strings attached to the walls. Curious figures tip-toe by this quiet sensuality, some trying not to touch anything, others unaffected by the fact that the strings are literally connected to her most private region. Once, at another show, a guy tried to pull the copper piece tied to the strings from inside her as she performed. She wasn’t sure if it was ultimate art or ultimate trauma. Her boyfriend was furious.

“People get very offended with being confronted with nudity, with the human body. They don’t like being exposed to it or forced to confront it. They consider it exhibitionism,” Houston artist Julia Claire says. “For me it’s a way of dealing with relationships with people; with having to be close to them.”

Claire’s installation in the upstairs Spotplus gallery was the climax of a night of performance art, and like many of the other acts, hers left a bunch of curious onlookers trying to figure out what they were “supposed” to feel.

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