In 2004 I was in a trapeze coaching session, in preparation for a performance work in which I would use trapeze for a climactic moment as a dramatic effect. I slipped out of an ankle drop, and fell upside-down landing on the back of my neck, fracturing 2 vertebrae. This near catastrophe resulted in an eventual healing.
In 2011 I created a solo performance work The Escape Artist, based on my accident. My desire for clarity and urgency led me to write a monologue, and co-write 7 songs with songwriter Carol Lipnik (I was lyricist), which traced the events of the trapeze accident from the coaching session, through the overnight stint in a hospital emergency ward, and to the eventual discharge 15 hours later.
I staged this performance simply—once the accident occurred, I lay motionless on a table for an hour, speaking the monologue and singing the songs live. Behind and slightly above me were hung 3 large video screens, on which was projected imagery that illustrated the story, and also provided the protagonist access and refuge into a fantasy world populated by the world of the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio.
2 years ago I began work on A Friend Gave Me a Book, a graphic novel that incorporates graphically rendered texts from the performance work (monologue and song lyrics), and hand-drawn imagery culled from the video component (hospital imagery and the paintings and world of Caravaggio). It is comprised of a series of 10” x 10” drawings on paper and linen-covered wood panels (graphite, oil pastel, gouache, colored pencil, wood-burning, acrylic paint, and oil paint). I am configuring these in pairs (though there will be 2 or 3 tryptichs), and anticipate around 160 single (or 80 double) panels.
I aim to complete this ambitious work during the winter of 2017. I plan to publish it as a book, generate an edition of prints, and exhibit the work.