Kristin McWharter

Tug
2018

Kristin McWharter with performance assistance by Christina Yglesias

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Two performers will play a game of inverted tug of war. In this game each performer wears a harness at her waist that is connected to either end of a rope. The rope itself it networked through a series of pulleys such that each performer pulls towards each other, perpetually staying the same distance from one another, but collectively travelling across the space (see documentation). As the performers compete they face each other, are locked in eye contact, and communicate motivational phrases to one another.
These motivational phrases are sourced from prominent cultural icons in keynote, motivational, and self- improvement speaking and are rehearsed to reflect how tone, volume, intensity, and pacing shift audience perception of how the performers embody gender, competitiveness, aptitude, and self worth. Drawing on the artist’s research of how competitive sports, the self help movement and contemporary motivational rhetoric evolved with primarily masculine and male dominated leadership and public figures, the work explores how shifting gender identifiers within motivational rhetoric impacts performance and mental health as it relates to our bodies and self worth.