Kaia Gilje / Lorene Bouboushian (United States), Know What Smokes (US Premiere)

Know What Smokes is a performance piece that embraces the simplest way there is to learn about something: “to hit your head against the thing repeatedly. Or to shove your fingers up a nose, or jiggle a pair of breasts until your fingers ache.” If we close our eyes and feel what we are pressed against what do we learn? Kaia Gilje and Lorene Bouboushian attempt to activate sensation through different types of touch—tender, sensual, surprising, painful, mundane, and absurd. Working with closed eyes, they submit to each other’s touch. At times this touch serves as a guide to a deeper sensory experience and at other times it becomes distracting, invasive, or even a violent element to be defended against. The performative focus of the work arises from commitment to the emotional arcs, the deep fears, and the extreme sensations that their own actions conjure. How do guilt and betrayal function in a world where logic is warped and sensation is central?

Kaia Gilje and Lorene Bouboushian’s collaborative performances emerged from the desire to deconstruct a performance situation, throwing the room, performance setting, and social milieu into relief. Their years of research have formed an improvisational score-based performance relationship that blends vocalizing, moving, and audience/room interaction. They have presented work in New York at JACK NY (Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival), Movement Research at Judson Church, Panoply Performance Laboratory, CAGE, and a cow farm in the countryside, and internationally at Meinblau Projektraum and Liebig12 (Month of Performance Art-Berlin).