Michal Samama
Background Materials


October 1-4, 2014


‘To be a body is to be tied to a world’- Merleau-Ponty.

Background Materials is a performance event exploring the temporal and spatial aspects of bodily experience. Its focus, paradoxically, is what could be labeled as ‘background experience’: the ‘background noise’ of our daily existence, the sensual data that ties us to the world precisely by not coming under focus. Thus, the performance, though a visual event, highlights elements of ‘background noise’, such as the artists’ breathing, and the tactility of the materials with which she interacts.

Borrowing from the dynamics of a visit to an exhibition space, Background Materials brings together two separate performance pieces: Walling and Lament of Plastic. In both pieces, the performer interacts with materials that have a strong, yet elusive, presence in our cultural life. In Walling, the material is the concrete wall, the mute surroundings of the space. In Lament of Plastic it is a plastic trash bag, the transparent carrier of our waste and refuse. The uncanny presence of these materials consists precisely in their forming part of our background, rarely being objects of direct, intentional perception and reflection. Can we experience their ‘background’ quality while directing our gaze towards them?

Performance and video by Michal Samama. Lighting Design by Madeline Best. Video filmed by Blair Bogin.

“In Twists and Turns, She Uncovers Herself and the Noisy World Around Her” – Gia Kourlas, New York Times