I don't remember the date exactly, but it was sometime in the fall of 2008. I had recently returned from Hakushu, Japan, where I had been studying with Min Tanaka at his Body Weather Farm. I remember the distinct feeling that I experienced upon visiting the local Hannaford in Bennington, Vermont that fall. It was a feeling of sickness, and of complete sensory overload. I should say that I had been in a small village in rural Japan for the past two months, farming, dancing, cooking, and living as near to a monastic existence as I ever have. I was in a very open, pure and sensitive state. I remember the florescent lights, and the lack of windows in the supermarket. I remember the looks on the faces of the people that I saw there. They looked half dead, not there, unhappy, and tired. And yet they persevered. As I walked around the store, I felt my energy getting zapped, and I felt my body turning in on itself. It all made me wonder what would happen if I just let my body be as it felt. The folks in the supermarket were doing an incredible job of keeping it together, and maintaining the prescribed choreography of that place. But I wondered, what if I didn't?
That was the seed. A couple of weeks later I returned to the store with the intention of doing a performance. I did not invite an audience. My only viewers were the people who happened to be shopping or working there at the time.
It must have been around 4:00pm. People were beginning to do their dinner shopping. The over-packaged food piled floor to ceiling brought on a dull, anxious feeling in my stomach and neck. Instead of resisting, I allowed it to sink into my bones. Right away I felt my body sink under an invisible weight. My vitality seemed to pour out of my chest and into the plastic packaging. A uniform florescent glow surrounded me and the items on the shelves. I moved aimlessly through the aisles, taking it all in, letting the environment of the store and the sophisticated packaging do its work on me, on my body.
Before long my eyes glazed over and I noticed that I had stopped acknowledging what I was seeing in my peripheral vision. As I inched my way through the chip and soda aisle I wasn't looking at the shelves any longer. Instead, I was staring dead ahead into the meat cooler at the end of the aisle. The air was thick with boredom. I felt people looking at me with concerned side-long glances. When at last I reached the meat cooler I did not turn right or left. My empty cart pressed into the glass of the cooler door. My gaze was now fixated on a package of frozen pre-made hamburgers stuffed with Velveeta cheese. Some time passed, and I found myself moving again. My cart was still empty. At this point I had been in the store for almost an hour. I continued to cruise the store, deep inside my head, feeling almost completely blank.
At some point I decided that it would be a good idea to fill my cart up with wonder bread. So I made my way to the bread aisle.