Narcissister’s new evening-length performance, Organ Player, stretches the limits of our spectatorship. While her recent solo gallery exhibition, Narcissister is You, placed us in proximity to surfaces and mirrors, Organ Player lures us into a body, one that threatens to eject its contents. Narcissister turns the body inside-out, reminding us that the abject is neither internal nor external, subject nor object. Making explicit the latent correlation between abject sociality and abject fluids, she stages an uncanny scene of reanimation, enveloping us in the cushiony folds of bodily organs, impossibly housed in a flat wooden doll. The doll’s mobile hinges cast an eerie humor throughout this episodic performance abounding with Narcissister’s distinctive blend of performance art, dance, striptease, music, feminist craft, and vaudevillian trickery.
By turns evoking the spectral scene of Heinrich von Kleist’s marionette theatre and confronting what Tavia Nyong’o refers to as the “failed humor” of the ceramic figurine’s “racist kitsch,” Organ Player aestheticizes the intertwined relationship between race, subjectivity, and grace. As the doll’s body composes itself, at what point does the inanimate become animate? Donning hard masks and inserting various paraphernalia into her orifices, Narcissister has been known to place the brittle surface of the kitsch or fetish object against—and into—the mutable, muscular surface of her live fleshy body. In her rendering of a larger-than-life doll, she goes on to further explore the interplay between object and subject, eventually entering into and bursting from internal organs made of soft, quilted materials. As such, the coalescence of affect and materiality asks us to feel the feeling heart, succumb to the resounding organ.
- Ariel Osterweis, 2013
Organ Player was commissioned by Abrons Art Center and was nominated for a 2013 Bessie Award in the category of "Outstanding production of a work at the forefront of contemporary dance and performance practices."