Twelve: a series of performative koans

During the months of September and October of 2017 I completed a residency project consisting of twelve performance events throughout Chicago. Harnessing personal experiences with schizophrenia those performances thematically represented mental illnesses and the human behind them, each commanding a new dialogue and offering a new way to experience notions of identity, suffering, healing, language, and stigma.

Based in Zen Buddhism, "koans" are paradoxical riddles that provoke inquiry and engage the power of intuition. By demonstrating the limits of logic, a koan leads to discovery, healing, and, it is said, enlightenment.

As part of a residency project in partnership with the NEA, 3Arts and UIC, I chose the vehicle of koans, and borrowed from Greek mythology the story of Herakles, who must complete 12 labors as penitence.

In these works, I focused on the themes of penitence, forgiveness, language, and the roles they play in understanding and healing mental illness.

You can find video documentation under the performances tab in the menu above.

These performances could not have happened without the support and efforts from the staff at Steppenwolf Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, The Poetry Foundation, Intuit: the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Gallery 400, as well as the long list of collaborative partners. Thank you!

This residency was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts,  3Arts, and Bodies of Work. My generous thanks to them for making this monumental task happen.