Disorientalism:Katherine Behar & Marianne M Kim

This piece was a sprawling performative mashup of objects, video, actions and gaming avatars. The following is a recollection of our reception of the performance.

The Wendies are everywhere. Some of the Wendies are in the test kitchen wearing skirt suits and white Velcro trainers. The test kitchen Wendies have clipboards and participate in an interactive video game. They make others participate in the interactive video game.

Some of the Wendies are the digital worker Wendies. They pick digital plants in a digital warehouse. They wear khakis and white tops and aprons. To recharge, they do Tai Chi in a digital Sound of Music landscape.

I am disoriented. I suppose I’m thinking, “Wendy, my mother is at work. I need you to love me and take care of me, Wendy. I need you to make me an old-fashioned hamburger and put it in a bag and fill the void. This is the kind of marketing that makes me brand loyal for the rest of my life, Wendy.”

I suppose I’m thinking, “Wendy, you are a model employee. You work so hard and you are so proficient at Tai Chi. You do the right moves at the right time and I think you are overdue for a level up. Take care of yourself, Wendy, because the Big Boss Voice may acknowledge your excellent service with an occasional sick day or affirmational saying.”

Oh yes. The Big Boss Voice. The Big Boss Voice is also everywhere. He explains the game. He explains the intention of Disorientalism to challenge the distinction between production of commodity and production of self. The Big Boss sounds a gong when the work round is over and sounds chimes when the self-care round is over.

The Wendies lead karaoke to a song in which Faust invents paper currency. Faust sang about paper hundreds of years before Chief Keef decided to make music about the same subject with equally effusive worship of the work-reward process. Some audience members are excited about the opportunity to speak-sing along with the Wendies. Some are less excited.

RP14 Disorientalism photo by Bow TyThe test kitchen Wendies costume change to become live versions of the digital worker Wendies. They pick ketchup bottles from trees and use them to curl their red hair. They move huge box towers and swim through cascades of paper bags emblazoned with the pigtailed insignia of more Wendies. They dance in their khaki pants. They are doing the same moves, they are both fast, and they are both good. Maybe one of the Wendies is faster or better than the other.

I suppose I’m thinking, “Wendy why are you playing the game? Are you afraid? Are you conditioned? Do you trust The Big Boss Voice when he promises you upgrades?”

Then one of the Wendies sings in another language. I am completely at a loss. I don’t know what this language is. I don’t know what they are saying. They are very insistent. Is it an anthem? What am I complicit to?

The remaining Wendy crawls back into the box tower, covering her trail with brown paper bags.

RP14 performance photos by Bow Ty.
Mothergirl (Katy Albert and Sophia Hamilton) is a Chicago based performance duo whose work has taken the form of installation, durational event, and guided audience interaction. Mothergirl’s characters, and the worlds they inhabit, exhibit a strategically refracted or misrepresented view of current political and philosophical discourse, creating a space where viewers are challenged to think critically about their own relationships with feminism, consumerism, and representational visuality. They have performed at Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (2013), MCA Chicago, Rough Trade II Artist Exchange, Out of Site, and Roxaboxen. They were 2012 ACRE Residents and 2013 Chicago Artists Coalition HATCH Residents.