“CONTACT brought to the Pioneer Valley a potent opportunity to engage the reality of the impact of war on veteran’s lives, bodies, minds and souls — complex and painful truths that are generally ignored or pushed away — and to raise questions of accountability and responsibility for the rest of us. The strong physicality of the performance — its use of compressed space, embodied choreography, and the close, sometimes almost confrontational proximity of audience and performers — demanded that audience become more than voyeur. The post-performance panel discussion and dialogue extended that possibility by inviting audience, veterans and activists to grapple together with these complex realities. I remember in particular a somewhat heated back and forth between a veteran, an arts administrator, and audience members about the role of memorial art in a democratic society — how to find new forms of memorial that go beyond shallow breast-beating or heroic congratulations. The embodied dialogical space opened up by CONTACT is one answer.
Sarah Bliss, multimedia artist