There’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable. But why not also be prepared?
Atrocities ‘R’ Us is an hour and fifteen-minute-long solo-performance written, directed, and performed by Tasha Diamant. The artist describes her work as “naked performance art” and performs with the goal of becoming radically vulnerable. Atrocities ‘R’ Us follows a loose structure, oscillating between biographical anecdotes, existential plights, and casual Q&A sessions. Diamant makes it clear from the get go that she doesn’t plan anything ahead of time, letting “whatever is meant to happen, happen.” Though leaving the performance up to fate was an exciting promise of vulnerability, its amorphous result could have largely benefitted from even minimal preparation.
Atrocities ‘R’ Us attempts to address what Diamant calls human’s “threat of mass extinction” through demonstrations of radical vulnerability. Fully naked (save for mismatched socks and sandals, glasses, and jewelry), Diamant alludes to societal violence, capitalism, colonialism, and even gender division (to name a few things), tirelessly ranting about almost all of the world’s problems.
The value of this piece lay in Diamant’s willingness to share herself, physically and mentally, with the audience. Diamant was skillful in using vulnerability to bridge the gap between people: her emotional and physical bareness worked as a tool that successfully opened the door to difficult conversations, and allowed the audience to follow along with her. Unfortunately, the conceptual path Diamant took us along didn’t actually lead anywhere.
The artist flung topical buzz-words towards the audience without conceiving where or how they would land. Diamant glossed over noteworthy ideas such as “learning viscerally” and “the invisibility of emotions,” mentioning heavy subject matter like “cultures of violence and domination” only in passing. The performer did not hesitate to throw rousing comments into the mix, either, declaring “corporations are sociopathic!” and “I loathe my culture.” Though all of this initially seemed engaging, the piece’s lack of direction allowed no topic to come to fruition.
The majority of the performance took the form of a Questions and Answers period, but not even the audience’s questions could narrow Diamant’s scope towards a singular direction. As the performer didn’t have any specific topics or advice she wanted to specifically discuss, the Q&A session came across as a time-filler. I wondered if she’d ran out of things to say.
I asked Diamant why she chose to keep her socks and sandals on throughout the piece. Her answer was simple and matter-of-factly: comfort. This was also the reason she kept her jewelry on. With her reply, I felt the only throughline of the piece slip away from me, Diamant effectively undermining the premise of her own performance. As her nakedness was meant reflect a radical vulnerability (to both risk and reward), choosing to anchor herself with comfortable footwear seemed to subvert the very radicalness and vulnerability that she was seeking.
While Diamant’s naked performance art touched upon many enticing concepts, Atrocities ‘R’ Us didn’t come together as a whole. The show littered its bright ideas, throwing away thought provoking material and the audience’s engagement along with it.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
For open-minded audiences who enjoy open-ended threads.
Human Body Project presents “Atrocities ‘R’ Us”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – 15, 2019
Venue: 08 – Black Theatre Workshop Studio
3680 Jeanne-Mance, Montréal, H2X 2K5
Admission: $8-12 | Ages 16+
Check out all our other 70+ reviews
from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!