Performance of Kira O’Reilly

Legs high, pressed to the wall, the flat front of feet, the shins, the knees. Then thighs lead to pelvis, stomach, and chest on the floor. Spread fingers under shoulders, tight elbows. The cheek of the face resting on the ground is obscured by a wave of hair- wet with egg and dazzling in lurid green glitter.

The body mimicking but incongruous with the right angle where white wall meets the grey floor, covered in a massive matte grey spread of paper, taped down on all sides, delineating the space of the performance and the space of us, watching. Running a diagonal line across the marked-off area are five thin silver spoons with five silver bowls, overfull with that green glitter already in her hair. There is a spooned circle or semicircle of glitter reflecting perfectly in the underside of each bowl. Dotted around the space, laid out like a code, are a few dozen light brown eggs- arranged neatly and intentionally, in diagonals and small grids.

Still face down, in slow and controlled movements, she comes off the wall. Reaching stretching, opening, folding. Actions of deliberate falling. Reaching, drawing a line, discovering configurations. Holding, reaching, slow collapse. She picks up an egg, holding it out in presentation.
The space is incredibly quiet. As the door opens and closes the sound of the city comes and goes. Her breath is clear to us, rising over traffic and all the people out there.

Though we are just a few feet off the street, this space of performance is far removed. The air is reverent, we are attentive. The festival staff usher people in and out, the door opens and closes. The photographer’s shutter interjects occasionally. A sign on the door forbid photography, our cell phones are away.

She inserts the egg into her mouth. Hold. Stretch, suspend. She crushes the egg in her mouth and yolk and white leak around her chin and down her torso. She kicks her legs up on the wall again, an unnatural or infantile position.

She lowers herself into awkward angles, the body folds in on itself. The body expands, hips raise high and weight shifts into her hands as she pushes forward onto the tips of her toes. And then down again. Another egg, held out, held on, then squished. A headstand, supported by elbows, fingers radiating outward, legs kicked into the air.

She blows into the first bowl of glitter, giving it life. It shimmers outward onto the paper and sticks to her face. She dunks her head in the bowl. The green is an artificial reptile, fairy, dragon, kelly green. Deep like moss, but dark and bright like stars.

Her movement is careful, slow, controlled, and active constantly. She never leaves the ground, never stands up all the way though she gets close in half-standing folds. At the top of a push-up, she reaches an arm up, outward, opening. Slowly she falls to the side, wrists bent back, fingers splayed. If sped up, her movement might read like she is being tossed around by some force. Her total bodily control is the force, with and against weight and gravity. Her movement alters the state of the space all around us. A slowness which breathes.

She puts another egg in her mouth. Producer. Destroyer.

The eggs are lines of movement, a score to be enacted as she chooses. Squish, then squish, then she picks one up and holds it. Her hair still covers her face, dripping yolk and glitter. Somehow, it is still a jolt when she breaks an egg suddenly. From the third bowl she spoons glitter onto her head, collecting and cascading from her crown. A green spoonful without nutrients, a field of battered and to-be-battered eggs. Her slow movements dwell in each new mess, lingering in every fresh excess. Angles of torso to leg, knees to floor, thighs to arms, elbows to shoulders, wrists to knees. On her knees, with wrists bent back and arms held straight, she folds forward, her neck and shoulders meeting the floor, she straightens her legs and pushes forward into an awkward shoulder stand, one leg lifts and suspends before she lowers herself down. Then, the startlingly familiar gesture of reaching for something real, egg. She holds the egg in her fist. Squeezing, leaning forward on her knees. Strength, force, tension. The layers of shell squeezed in her fist.

She inserts the egg in her mouth and holds it, she rocks backward onto her shoulders, extending her legs over her face parallel to the ground, arms spread out flat with bent wrists hands facing inward. These movements repeat, they vary, they repeat, they hold, they change.

The egg in her mouth cracks and the contents spill down her body. First a watery liquid, followed by the more viscous egg white, then the fragile inner egg yolk- the membrane around which tears as it falls out of her mouth and the yolk runs across her chest and between her legs. Her hair collects eggshells like a witch, a goddess. The athletic body, shimmering in abjection, cycles through long held positions of openness, rest, expansion, condensing.

Her breath becomes heavier as time passes and her body begins slightly to shake. The positions move in and out of balance, but they are unsustainable.

With the little silver spoon, held delicately at the end of the handle, she pours glitter into her hand. She experiences the glitter, feels it, really touches and responds to it. I feel her imagination, I feel play, I feel fantasy. She spoons glitter over and over onto her knee. Yolk dripping out of her hair and drying lightly on her body. A goddess with arms splayed, diving. A terrible, destroying goddess, diving. A goddess playing slowly, unabashed, aware. She presents her body in vulnerable positions, she maintains control and is self-contained. She becomes something other as she becomes more transformed. Dragging eggshells in her dripping yolk seaweed hair.

She plays with herself, she crushes the egg in her mouth, slow pleasure as the egg drips out of her mouth. A process of anointing, a celebration of the sacred body through adornment, or a sanctifying of the recognizable human body with a sacred material. Glitter is the sacred material of camp. Eggs are the beginning of the universe, the beginning of a single life, the beginning of familiar and constant cycles.

I am worried, suddenly, about how much time she has been upside-down. Blood courses through the body and fresh bright blood collects in the head as she dizzyingly pushes herself into another headstand. We are so still. I feel and see her strength but we hold our breath as she suspends upside-down, our movements might tip her over. She lowers herself onto her back, folding upward, tensed core muscles lowering her back towards the ground, her bent knees moving forward away from her torso, arms held out to her sides. These aren’t animal forms, but controlled nonhuman forms. She presses her face into a bowl of glitter. Hands on the ground, hips lifted, folds forward. Her eyes caked in glitter. Obscured, protected, encrusted, distorted. The tense body which does not find rest, which cycles through precarious postures, toying with balance. She breathes into the glitter, giving it life. A performance with no beginning and no end, repeating ad infinitum, in and out of life and death.

RP14 performance photo by Carrie Ruckel
Eames Armstrong is the founding editor of PERI0D Art Journal and the director of Aether Art Projects, a free form arts organization. She curated the 2013 Supernova Performance Art Festival in Virginia, and has organized and facilitated numerous performances and events around DC as well as at Grace Exhibition Space, Brooklyn. She has performed at the Houston International Performance Art Festival, and all around Washington, DC, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Her work deals with systems of revealing, both physically and conceptually, through layers and disclosures. She believes in an honest and embodied practice of writing about performance art.