HIT, publicity material, 2014

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Full installation gallery view, from entrance, Gallery 7, Madison, WI 2014

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Chair for resting between bouts, Gallery 7, 2014  

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Video monitors, playing video of hit training, video loop + sound, Gallery 7, 2014 

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Video monitors, playing video of hit training, video loop + sound, Gallery 7, 2014

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Installation view with foregrounded punch mitts, Gallery 7, 2014

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Punch mitt on ground, Gallery 7, 2014

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Script notes and performance notes, Gallery 7, 2014

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HIT in progress with female participant, Gallery 7, 2014

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HIT in progress with female participant, Gallery 7, 2014

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HIT in progress with male participant, Gallery 7, 2014

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HIT in progress with male participant, Gallery 7, 2014

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HIT is a solo performance about violence and power. 


Visitor-participants entered the gallery and were asked if they would like to participate in the piece. 


Once they gave their consent, I invited the participant into the square space in which we’d be doing the work. Upon inviting them in, I informed the participant that this was a safe space in which they would be striking the punching mitts I was holding and I would not be hitting them back.


I would ask the participants if they’d had any experience with martial arts, fighting, hitting, etc. I asked them to show me how they made a fist and made any necessary corrections for safety and proper technique. Then I asked them to hit the mitts a few times on each side. These hits would usually be tentative.


Next I would alter the participant’s stance and teach them how to hit not from the arm or the shoulder, but to swing from the hip and push from their back. Instantly the participant’s strikes would become more powerful.


The participant would then hit the mitt on each side several times and I would encourage them loudly to hit the mitts harder, harder–reassuring them that they couldn’t hurt me. I would be very vocal in this encouragement and ramp up their confidence.


It should be noted that in the background, video of me striking the same punching mitts was playing constantly on a loop. The sound was fairly high so that my striking and concurrent vocalizations were creating a nice backdrop for the participant.


Once participants were striking the mitts fairly confidently, I would lower them and give them a small break. I also gave them their last set of instructions. I asked the participant to reflect on how everyone we met, out in the world, is doing battle of some kind. And that I was sure that they, the participant, were doing battle of some kind. And I asked them to think about what it was they were doing battle with–a teacher, a concept, a bad relationship–and when they had it really solidified in their minds, I asked them to hit the punching mitts as hard as they could. And not only that–I asked them to shout, to yell, to scream or otherwise vocalize as they struck the mitts. I demonstrated a throaty yell and also refer to the video in the background as an example.


Participants would pause and collect their thoughts. Once they were ready, some participants launched themselves at the mitts, screaming and pounding. Others were silent, with voices that were coaxed tentatively from them to a moderate volume at the end. Some people yelled FUCK! as loud as they could, over and over; some struck the mitts with such force where there had been no force before, that my arm flew well behind where it normally goes past my shoulder.


Participants would usually be panting from exertion at the end of their work with the piece. It is not an easy thing to hit something repeatedly, or vocalize loudly something that is usually kept silent. 


Participants were also usually always grinning and grateful for this kind of unusual interlude during the day.

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