Early in the pandemic, Jonathan and Holly joked about making a piece with a six-foot pole strapped between their bodies. After a whole lot of national turmoil, the idea ended up being the only thing they felt they could contribute to the moment. 6’ was made for Arts On Site’s Arts Alive series in October 2020, with the help of space grants from Arts On Site and Spoke the Hub. PVC pipe of various sizes dress the space as Jonathan and Holly scrutinize each other’s hand washing, and learn how to address an in-person audience after seven months of staying home. BREAKTIME experiments with socially distanced audience participation, providing gloves to spectators who feel comfortable handing the pair a pole from 6 feet away. An ode to the heightened mundanity of lockdown, Jonathan and Holly attempt to balance a pole across their heads while layering increasingly risky behavior the more they succeed at balancing, and take audience requests as to what body parts to use to suspend multiple poles between themselves. In each of these tasks and more, simplicity is stretched to impossibility, with failure on relentless repeat. Over time, the primary pole between their bodies is experienced as decreasingly punitive and is ultimately celebrated as the next best thing to human contact via rapturous tap dancing.
Performers: Jonathan Matthews, Holly Sass & audience
Music: The Magnetic Fields, “Three-Way” ; Elizabeth Cotten and Brenda Evans, “Jesus Lifted Me” ; The Incredible String Band, "The Circle is Unbroken” ; Joanna Newsom, “On a Good Day,” arranged and sung by Jonathan Matthews and Holly Sass, Laura Nyro, “And When I Die”
Original masks and tap dance skirts: Maddie Schimmel
Harnesses: Jonathan Matthews and Holly Sass, with guidance from Ben Gould and Gabriella Lacza
Photos: Argenis Apolinario