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Paul Wellman

Burnish at SBCAST

Mark-David Hosale and Erika Batdorf Bring Interactive Art From Toronto


This interactive performance installation by Mark-David Hosale and Erika Batdorf occupied one of the ground floor exhibition spaces at SBCAST for two weeks in December. The installation consisted of a tent outfitted with peep holes and containing a small workshop where Erika Batdorf, wearing a magnificent cat mask, met visitors one at a time and conducted them through a series of choices leading to the fabrication of a small gift in the form of an improvised talisman. For their session, which is some ways resembled having your fortune told, visitors were required to wear headphones and sit opposite the tent’s one large opening. There, from behind a transparent curtain and through a voice modulating electronic device, a series of questions emerged along with wooden tiles bearing words like Pride, Truth, and Doubt. The interaction involved the visitor in a sequence of decisions that bore some relation to a ritual of purgation and self-transformation. Depending on what you chose to burn, you presumably received a different response.

The finale of this vivid dream of a performance came when Batdorf shifted from her electronically modified whisper to a dramatic and beautiful singing voice, perhaps representing the new state of being accessed through the process. Mystical and precise, “Burnish” managed to elicit a remarkably wide range of thoughts and emotions within the small compass of a fifteen minute encounter.

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