In the opening moments of Vespertime the audience is introduced to a number of unusual words. Some are from the Hawaii of Makishi's birth, others (like vesper) are English words with a little known etymology. Other words are familiar but are given mysterious prophetic importance through the lens of Makishi's framing of them within the story she's spinning. So, what is Vespertime? Stacy tells us that the word means evening prayers, a sermon, or could even euphemistically refer to intercourse. The aim of her performance is therefore laid out from the start; Vespertime is intended to be an edifying message and a shared euphoric moment.
The gospel contained in this work is a call to consider what drives our actions in life. It is a plea to turn from the desire for revenge and the shame of regret and choose instead an attitude of generosity. It's a response to every limiting impulse with a cry for 'more'! There are a number of ways in which Makishi's Vespertime resembles a religious service, like the moments of communal singing with Tracy Chapman standing in for traditional hymns. Our scriptures for the evening come not from the Bible, but the movies of Demi Moore. The evening is peppered with pop-culture references that stand-in for the shared language of a religious gathering, and like a good preacher Makishi weaves in illustrations from her own life and manages to keep some sense of a larger truth at the centre of it.
One of Vespertime's core references is Melville's Moby Dick. The novel stands in directly for a number of things during the show. Yet also within the idea of this giant white whale (this object of obsession that is unknowable, unobtainable and constantly hidden by the chaos of the ocean), is a picture of how the idea of God is perceived in the show.
In Vespertime, coincidences and forced correlations between events are ascribed portentous significance. Makishi presents a worldview in which everything that happens potentially contains a spiritual message that wants to be decoded. Vespertime is a carefully constructed work that brings together seemingly disparate references to create a meaningful cohesive whole. But Makishi doesn't claim ownership of this careful construction, she presents herself as a channel for something larger, some muse that comes from outside. As member of her audience (or congregation, or pod) I left feeling uplifted, but I was also left to consider just where the work came from, was its source something within Makishi herself as the artist? Or was it, as she claimed, the influence of some outside voice, some muse, or God? Is reading meaning into our circumstances something that is perceived purely in our minds, or is it something more? And if it helps us navigate the real world is the source of that meaning significant? (JL)
- Jim Lockey
LINKS RELEVANT TO THIS DIAGNOSIS:
Stacy Makishi - www.stacymakishi.co.uk
More Live Art and Inner Voices - https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/dec/11/kim-noble-will-die-review
Madness, creativity and religious experience – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201204/madness-creativity-and-religious-experience
The first book written in English by a female mystic about her experiences of hearing the voice of God - Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revelations_of_Divine_Love)