(2018) A performance in which participants are invited to enter into my subconscious realm and recreate a dream of mine. In this dream all of Humanity is told it is our last day of life on earth – the air has grown to dense with Carbon Dioxide and will no longer be able to support life. In the dream, my friends are helping me assemble a puzzle of the earth on my belly while we float on a raft out at sea. We are told that we will die, and we wait and wait to die, but we do not die. We continue to live.
During the performance, participants are invited to assemble the puzzle on my belly. 3/4 of the way through the puzzle, we learn that some of the pieces are missing, and that they must smash the busts surrounding us to free the remaining pieces. After smashing the busts and finding the pieces, participants are free to complete the puzzle.
This performance is based on a dream I had the night of the Ghost Ship fire, on December 2, 2016. 36 people were killed in that fire. This performance is dedicated to the victims of that fire and to their loved ones.
Full text of the performance:
[Lights Are On, projections are dimmed]
JAIMES: I would like to welcome you to this happening, called World Puzzle. This is a highly interactive happening. You will be asked to participate – though of course, you are welcome to stand back and simply observe if that feels more comfortable to you.
Some words on the content of this piece which might be sensitive for some. Firstly, this event will be filmed. If you do not wish to be on camera, please let the documentarian know.
Other things: You will be asked to be in close physical proximity to others, and there will be some destruction of objects.
You can choose to participate, then step back, then participate again, just please be mindful of those who are concentrating on the piece.
And lastly, this is an experiment. It has never been tried before.
I appreciate your engagement and support.
2.) WATER DREAM
JAIMES: I would like to invite everyone to close their eyes. We will sit in meditation for one minute, and then I will begin to tell you a story. Please keep your eyes closed until you hear the sound of ocean.
[SIT IN SILENCE FOR ONE MINUTE]
JAIMES: On December 2, 2016, I had a dream. The whole world has been told it’s the last day of life on earth. The last day. The parts per million of carbon in the air has reached it’s absolute maximum level. After this day, the air around us will no longer be able to support oxygen.
I am in a small european city which feels like a town. Things feel quaint. There are bakeries and shops...little quaint buildings.
And all of us citizens are in our own homes, waiting to die, doing what we can to say goodbye to this earthly life. I am in my home, waiting to die. I have the window shades drawn, and am watching the light from outside play on the walls as I consider death. I feel all the grief of letting go of life. But I also feel curiosity of what it will be like to emerge from my body and go to the afterlife.
I close my eyes and imagine what it will feel like for my body to escape into billions of tiny particles, or lose consciousness, or whatever happens when you die.
And then, I don’t die.
2a.) [OCEAN WAVES SOUND COMES ON]
[LIGHTS GO OUT]
When I open my eyes, I am lying on a raft in the middle of the ocean. The water stretches out as far as the eye can see.
My friends are kneeling over me, assembling a puzzle on my belly. They are smiling, and joyful. Off on the horizon, there is a tree growing out of the water, with a treehouse inside. It is our house.
But the air looks strange. On closer inspection, I see that there are tiny rainbows floating in the air. At first I don’t understand, but then I realize that they are the sunlight refracting in the carbon that should be too thick for us to breathe.
But we don’t die. They said today was the last day of life on earth, but we don’t die. There’s a promise, somehow, from the world at large, that we are all going to be okay, and we get a new chance at life.
JAIMES: I would like to invite you to open your eyes and join me in recreating my dream. I am going to lie down on this raft and invite you to come assemble this puzzle on my belly. You can come and go as you assemble it. As I’m laying down, I will offer instructions, so please listen for my voice.
Don’t be shy!
[JAIMES PUTS ON PUZZLE APRON]
[JAIMES GOES TO LIE DOWN ON THE RAFT]
4.) PEOPLE ASSEMBLE THE PUZZLE.
THEY RUN OUT OF PIECES
JAIMES: This might be a good time to tell you that not all of the puzzle pieces are here. There are 7 pieces inside the busts. You need to smash them in order to get the pieces out. You may smash them in the main area of the room. Safety goggles, hammers and flashlights are provided on the bench.
As you look for the missing pieces, I ask you to reflect on a piece of yourself that may have gotten lost over time. If you want, you can vocalize it by telling me what it is you want to call back to yourself.
5.) PEOPLE SMASH THE BUSTS
[The puzzle is put together]
JAIMES: Thank you. The end.
I Eat Apple Like a Man
I Eat Apple Like a Man
We Sell Louis Vuitton in Chinatown
I created 5 Louis Vuitton bags made from cardboard, paint, packing tape and permanent marker as props for a video project. After the film shoot was over, I activated the pieces by selling them for zero dollars on canal street alongside the other counterfeit vendors. Passersby had to barter one personal item for one of the bags. The street vendors wound up coaching me in my efforts to “sell” the bags.
Here is the video for that performance. https://vimeo.com/35867004
We Sell Louis Vuitton in Chinatown
(2010) A performance which I conducted on my 27th birthday, in which I buried and gave a funeral for my innocence. The burial site was an abandoned lot in my neighborhood, which is now, years later, being excavated in preparation for the tallest (and ugliest) residential skyscraper in Queens. Some of the objects buried during the funeral included:
- sneakers I wore while volunteering as a non-violent direct action activist in the West Bank, Palestine
- love letters from a broken relationship
- follow-up paperwork from an abortion
Barritone Adrian Owen sang Opera while I buried the items, and I invited all guests to add objects of their own to the grave before covering it with dirt.