On Saturday evening, staring out at the East River from a Brooklyn apartment, I was suddenly confronted with a procession of models and actors coming from the back of the room. The group was in various stages on undress, some fully clothed, most were completely nude. They walked through the group of people sitting in the living room and assembled in a tableau, staring back at the audience. “Confronted” is the important word here, as that is the intention of this experience’s creator, New York photographer Sarah Small.
A New York photographer we’ve previously featured, Small has masterfully created tense, but whimsical photographs that juxtapose “improbable” elements together in the confines on a single frame. Three young girls and an old woman crying hysterically. A badly bruised calf and a newborn baby. A bloody deck chair and a pastoral landscape. These are all examples of pictures in her series “The Delirium Constructions.” Now Small is going beyond photography and transforming her photographs into a living, breathing performance piece.
Dubbed “Tableau Vivant of the Delirium Constructions Part II” this performance brings together models of various races, sizes and ages who then act out various actions and emotions resulting in an engrossing symphony of human experience. Tears, passion and song are all on display, pointed directly at the audience. In her artist statement, Small says that the scenarios presented “are staged, but the emotions that result are born through improvisation, spontaneously captured and authentically experienced. Like an optical illusion, where the viewer shifts between opposing visual perceptions, these images reference emotional illusion, a rock back and forth between projection and introspection, between darkness and hilarity.”
What I was able to see on Saturday evening was a small sample of what Small hopes to accomplish this year. In the next few months, Small, who is currently seeking funding for her project, plans to amass a cast of 120 models, and produce an even larger version of what she’s already showcased. We at the Photoletariat wish her the best of luck, and if you’re interested you should certainly check out her portfolio and the Tableau Vivant website.