by Arjuna Capulong, performed with Cathy Kim
Performance, video installation, sound
Duration: 1 hour
Documentation by: Natalia Nicholson
“Tickled” is performed by Arjuna Capulong as “he who will be tickled” and Cathy Kim as “she who will be tickling.” The performance begins with both performers in a small, congested space, called the “Tickle Room,” where Arjuna is laying on a white pedestal, nude except for a sheer, black pantyhose over his head which distorts his countenance. Cathy begins nude, but with black fabric draped over her entire form and with a white, black-tipped feather in hand. Two red-gelled lights are directed toward Arjuna, creating an atmosphere of red in the space. Suspended over his head is a large video camera gesturing, with cables, a live-feed to a second room, the “Cloud Room”.
In the larger “Cloud Room” is an immersive environment created with a video of Arjuna being tickled, manipulated so that it is projected as blue light and appears through layers of 12 yards of sheer chiffon fabric. Also simultaneously playing loudly in this room will be an atmospheric, distorted soundtrack that samples female laughter. At the center of the room, placed on a layer of the fabric, is a “cloud,” a pillow emphasized by blue-gelled lights directed toward it and creating a blue atmosphere in the room. Audience members are invited to flow freely between the “Tickle Room” and the “Cloud Room.”
The first action entails in Arjuna being tickled by Cathy with her feather. Her sight disabled by the fabric, she uses the feather to guide her deliberate tickling. She scans Arjuna’s entire body for his most responsive areas. Arjuna reacts genuinely, at times idle, laughing, or gasping for air. This action is carried out for 20 minutes.
The second action involves Cathy draping black fabric over Arjuna’s entire form. She then holds her feather over his body, positioned by his left side, for 10 minutes. Arjuna is still for the entire duration.
The third action involves Arjuna rising, while positioning the black fabric so that it drapes over his entirety, and taking Cathy’s hand as they begin to move toward the “cloud” in the “Cloud room”. They are slowly crawling, but the black fabric complicates their forms. Once the performers reach the “cloud” after 15 minutes, both performers slowly sink into the pillow for an additional 15 minutes. The final image is of the black fabric spread over the prone bodies of the performers, on the cloud, with the video and sound continuing to play over them.
The first half of the piece is inspired by the laughter of an ex-lover, and the contrasting scenarios in which she laughed, such as while in states of pain, pleasure, and nervousness. The second half of the piece is inspired by the longing of a physically and emotionally distant ex-lover, and coping mechanisms created. “Tickled” aims to investigate emotional response, especially laughter, in uncomfortable situations created by the installations.
Performed in 012 Performance Space, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL