This video was created with the help of our friends at Patch Production
Beginning in 2013, my team and I are launching a TWO-YEAR-LONG GLOBAL TOUR of my multi-disciplinary performance art project, Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions (complete description below/full performance video HERE). Traveling with a select group of Tableau vocalists, string players, and models, the vast majority of participants will be cast locally, allowing for each performance to draw its identity from within the existing community.
Musical elements will be drawn from each city, incorporating new musical repertoire into the performance, derived from site-specific cultural tradition and native folklore. Building community and connectivity through art, Tableau will act as a pilgrimage, leaving behind a trail of tradition in the form of folklore, exposing simple, universal human truths (life, death, and love). Fusing societies, Tableau will transcend other methods of communication, acting as a vehicle for cultural exchange and expansion.
Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions is a 75-minute, 120-body performance event, derived from the processes and methods of my still photographic series, which explores disparate characters and themes brought together in the same space to study improbable, close interactions. The performance itself exists within the larger framework of a 4-5 hour audience-integrating nightlife experience.
Performances begin in silence and stillness, as the audience confronts a static composition: a stack of human forms. As the performance unfolds these forms come to life, singly and in groups, alternating between static pose and surging gesture. Music emerges, evolving into choral harmonies; visual relationships are born and torn asunder; tension rises, only to dissipate. Finally, the performance melts into the crowd, eliminating the boundaries between the observer and the observed.
Unlike traditional theatre, the art of Tableau is rooted in the identities and interactions of the people involved—most of whom have little or no experience in performing arts of any kind. They are a “self-selecting” community, and the content is drawn from their personal histories and rapidly developing relationships with each other—in turn eliminating the artifice of “acting.”
In sum, Tableau is performance, tip-toeing on the edge of immersive theatre. It is music, incorporating classical aria, local folk song, choral drones, and string instruments. It is dance, juxtaposing organic, arrhythmic gesture with choreographed movement. It is visual spectacle, as one-hundred-twenty people pose and move in a range of costume: historical dress, contemporary fashion, nakedness. Finally, it is experiment; together, creating moments of truly original, highly improbable intimacy.
To see what we have tried to put into words above, visit The Delirium Constructions Vimeo page, with video footage available from select past performances (2009-2011).
For a Comprehensive Tour Deck, click HERE to download.
(From left: Laura At Evelyn's, Pearl Ring, Wilson Pickering Freich)
The Delirium Constructions was formally conceived in 2002 as a still photographic body of work, though themes from the series had been present in Small’s photographs since her early teens. The Delirium Constructions, as live performance and film, did not exist until 2009 when Small set out to create an experimental immersive art experience as part of her annual marketing event. Although her original aim was to promote curiosity about her photography, upon the event’s conclusion, Small became entranced by the enormous potential for creative expansion through further performative incarnations.
Since 1994, Small’s photographic works have been showcased in hundreds of exhibitions, nationally and internationally. She has been granted nearly fifty awards, and has been published worldwide in print contexts, including literary journals, fashion magazines, album covers, newspapers, coffee table books, and fine art publications, including Vogue, Life, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.
(From left: Molly And EllyMay, Two Mollys On Blue, Laura And The White Stoic Peacock *All 3 available as part of the Delirium Constructions Construction incentive package!)
Standing amongst the painting galleries at the Louvre, Small was struck by the diversity of emotions, gestures, expressions, and meanings shouting out from the confines of the neatly framed canvases on every wall. Small imagined what it might be like if the frames melted away and the subjects stepped forward into the gallery to intermingle with each other – for the tragic to comfort his comic neighbor or for the grotesque to argue with the naïf next door. Such unseemly and discordant pairings were already a driving interest behind her still photographic project, The Delirium Constructions, yet the idea of invigorating the still image, so that the previously passive viewer is suddenly immersed within the narrative, was tantalizing to Small – and she set out to explore this idea further.
Within all of her Tableaux, Small seeks to celebrate the human form in all of its diversity. Her use of nude models references the rich history and tradition of tableaux vivants, drawing from the works of master painters from the early Renaissance through the 19th century. Small presents her frozen models on podiums of varying heights, against austere white backdrops, displaying the models as if they were classical statuary. Fully and partially dressed models are juxtaposed with nudes in close proximity, challenging the audience to consider the differences and similarities between the naked and clothed human forms. Through these visual combinations, Small exposes a straightforward look at human identity. The final presentation to the audience—a skyline of human forms—achieves sculptural and architectural weight, as the viewer scans among the static models and groups, reading the ‘painting’ as one does a great work of art displayed on a museum wall.
Small’s Tableaux reach the young and the elderly, people of all classes and backgrounds; non-artists and artists alike, the working class and the celebrity, the imperfect and the trendy, the intellectual, the scientific, the philosophical, and the fashionista.
Throughout the course of the evening, audience members gradually transition from passive onlookers to participants in an interactive, party-like atmosphere. Upon entering the space, the Tableau Vivant exists as a static image, presented as a painting would be. During the 75-minute performance, the ambiance begins to shift as the piece comes to life, safely inviting the audience in, by way of sound and sight. Small herself emerges from amid the audience, directly confronting and handling performers as she maneuvers around the stage.
As the Tableau concludes, performers and musicians enact a recessional exit from the stage, immersing themselves into the audience, allowing for both direct and indirect interactions, promoting a dissolve of boundaries outside of social custom and norms. Food and drink adds to the communal, festive atmosphere of the event space, elevating the evening from spectacle to celebratory happening. It is the infusion of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch—a demand on each of the basic senses— which pulls the “attendee” out of a passive regard, and makes the audience one with the evening’s performers.
Patrons leave Small’s live events with lasting bonds—ties to themselves, to one another, and to the community at large. In each city, Small’s Tableaux generate a dialogue of safe, close, cultural connections, leaving behind a legacy to grow with time.
I am constantly in search of how to open myself more. Since [ Tableau ] I have lived knowing that it is possible. ~Heather Van Uxem Lewis
I have never felt so safe with a group of strangers... We summoned an energy that most people do not get to experience in their lifetimes; and now I carry that with me forever... ~Michael Angelo
The art was so profound, I wanted to share it with everyone in my life... I have elevated insight into the human condition because of Sarah. ~Shelley Thomas
It was the greatest of all (art experiences) I’ve ever experienced and deeply spiritual... If only its waves could cover and contaminate the world! ~Cully Firmin
I feel as though something really momentous and important has happened in my life. ~Kira Kupfersberger
Her eyes were opened to a new kind of art, a collaborative, live, and ever-changing piece that deeply connected her to herself... at one time she struggled with an eating disorder - her strong spirit prevailed... being a part of your work was truly a gift, and we are both so grateful. ~Anonymous (Participant’s Parent)
...an incredible celebration of love and life, union and individuality, birth and death, and everything in between... Words can’t really describe how much I felt and still feel. ~Alexandrea Thomsen
I think one of the most powerful elements in [Sarah’s] work is that in a disconnected digital age you are creating a truly ‘live experience’. 100 plus people - strangers came out of their houses and tenderly sat together cheek to cheek, hundreds more witnessed it. To feel it and understand it you have to be there... ~Greg Walloch
***PREVIEW IT HERE!***
The Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions Soundtrack will include in-studio recordings of the full score from Small's original 120-Model performance at Skylight One Hanson.
***Sarah's original Bulgarian a Capella arrangement of Ibish Aga
***Lush choral drone-scapes and other original compositions by Rima Fand and Sarah Small, including the Wildebeest Waltz
***Strings recorded by internationally-acclaimed Brooklyn Rider (of Philip Glass: String Quartets Nos. 1-5)
***With extra bonus tracks, including Black Sea Hotel's performance from the VIP reception, as well as secret behind-the-scenes audio from rehearsals - both the comic and the lovely
The singers’ voices resound thrillingly, midst the sea of humanity all around…the ordinary – the imperfect, real human bodies in their astounding variety of shapes, colors and forms seems like a miracle and 'Delirium' like a gift. ~The New York Times
There is an energizing newness to this ‘Delirium Construction’ a humble and humbling view of humanity that feels authentic. Even poetic... what you take away from the Tableau is a kind of peace... ~The Washington Post
Small has incredible raw talent. ~New York Press
In a world that often distances us from feelings of genuine emotion, Small compels us towards speculating on the human condition in all it’s variety, intimacy, and vulnerability. ~Platform Gallery
...an engrossing symphony of human experience. ~The Photoletariat
In order to launch this tour in the Spring of 2013, we're working each and every day on production with 13 different cities around the globe. Right now, we need to book our venues for our first few stops; Venice and Barcelona- shortly after followed by London and Edinburgh, and then we'll be moving onto Berlin, Tel Aviv, Avignon, Paris, Buenos Aires, Toronto, San Francisco, Sofia, and of course, New York!
Along with Contaminate NYC, we're hiring production teams worldwide, and we need to launch our official publicity and marketing campaign in the next two months to stay on track!
In line with The Delirium Constructions, all incentive packages are based on varied and unlikely combinations of “thank-yous!” Pick your choice and bask in Delirium!
Incentives are constructions and concoctions of all varieties, giving you and your friends the option to bask in whatever creative breed you most desire... Incentives range from teachings in photography by Sarah, to conversational Italian classes, spiritual yogic practice, Forensic Rorschach Assessment workshops, singing lessons by Shara Worden, personalized house concerts for your dinner parties by Hydra and members of Black Sea Hotel, free studio space for photography shoots, dance rehearsals, etc. at Small Studios; to pink drawings, limited edition prints showcasing past Tableaux performances, placement INTO a Tableau in your city - with a limited edition print of 1 for just you, limited edition prints from Sarah Small's still photographic series, The Delirium Constitutions, dinners custom cooked for you and your friends based on words you present to the Tableau team, curated nights on the town including free dinners with performances to follow by Reggie Watts, Sxip Shirey, Vanessa Walters (of Fischer Spooner) and Abigail Wright (of the Metropolitan Opera). We've also included baked goods sent directly to your home by a gorgeous commercial airline pilot, subscriptions to Zoom Magazine (2011 Photography Magazine of the Year), conversations about your mother with Sarah, poetry anthologies, private links to private moments of human wildebeests, singers to serenade you to sleep in your home, and much, much more...
From start to finish, the artistic process has been documented by Small and her film crew, exploring the journeys of Tableau participants and the evolution of the project over the past 3 years. Look out for the release of the feature-length documentary in a city near you, beginning in early 2013.
For those of you who are interested in contributing more than the $10,000 Kickstarter limit, you can do so by making a tax-deductible donation through our amazing and supportive fiscal sponsor, the Lucie Foundation. The Lucie Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation whose mission is to honor master photographers, discover and cultivate emerging talent and promote the appreciation of photography worldwide.
I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of you. I know people say that all the time. But I really mean it, and that's how clichés become clichés I guess, cause lots of people experience similar things and express them. I mean this so very much though. I am grateful to all of you who I know, to those I don't, and to those of you I will know one day in the future. Your support - not just financially, but also verbally and energetically, keeps me going everyday. Thank you for supporting me to continue to dream big every day.
So much love… and endless appreciation and thrill.
- (30 days)