Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to share the Off-Line Dating Game with another group of wonderful individuals. Kate Lassiter invited me to bring the work to one of her first classes of the semester. What I enjoy most about being able to share this piece in academic settings are the nuanced conversations that arise from students experiencing the work. Here, in these environments I am able to not only observe participants in a more intimate and honest way, but I can ask them to talk about their feelings toward the work. What an awesome opportunity!
When Kate invited me to share the game she explained, "I'm hoping your piece can be an invitation to sustained vulnerability in a way that brings forward the preconceptions that we have about what we should reveal in public spaces about ourselves, our identities, our pasts, and who we hope to become." After playing the game as a group for about half an hour, we paused. I wanted to talk about my influences for the work and why I view the game as an art piece. I talked about the contemporary artists I think about, and how many of these artists are asking more and more of their viewers.
In the group of adult women, who have come together to learn about sexuality and spirituality and to question the hetero-normativity found in many faith-based cultures we discussed the game, and its effectiveness. We talked about identity as a series of categories, embodiment, experience, and desire. We also questioned the fear of appropriateness. How the lack of intimacy can make us feel we need to shield ourselves from what others might think is right or wrong. We are trying to navigate other’s moral codes and how intimacy eventually helps us construct and deconstruct the ideas we have about the people in our surroundings.
It always feels good that people are asking for more when I leave or finish with a piece. And I will strive to always remember Kate’s response to me explaining to her that I struggle to keep the momentum going. She said, “You have important work to do here.”
Thank you to everyone that helped have such a positive experience sharing this piece again.