The Weight of Air on a Body (MAP 2019)



The Weight of Air on a Body is a contemporary puppet performance illustrating the effects that invisible policies and practices like redlining and disinvestment in Detroit neighborhoods have had on physical space – for residents, for civil servants and on the city’s topography itself. The work plays out over three acts, employing several performing object styles (bunraku-style puppets, shadow puppets, large-scale props, hand-painted miniatures of entire neighborhoods) that give physical form to stories told through spoken dialogue and pre-recorded audio narratives. Act 1 illustrates how the obligations of firefighters in a city with high vacancy and arson rates affect their physical and mental states; Act 2 examines the effects of subprime mortgage lending, charting the physical scale and scope of these practices across the city; Act 3 is a visual and physical synopsis of the strength taken to get to this place in time, enacting snapshots of perseverance and moments that transcend dominant narratives about the city. The Weight of Air on a Body uses the medium of puppetry to explore history’s effects on physical and topographical Detroit landscapes in order to envision a future that achieves a collective weightlessness in the face of what has come before.


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