IMPRESSIONS: E/D’s “amplifying the nothing” at Triskelion Arts

IMPRESSIONS: E/D’s “amplifying the nothing” at Triskelion Arts

Published on January 14, 2020
Photo by Karla Carballar

December 19, 2019


Creation and Performance: Erin Cairns Cella and Dages Juvelier Keates

Sound: Jascha Narveson // Video: Joshua Dumas // Lighting: David Glista

Sound Credits: Los Rio, Enya, Miley Cyrus, and an interview with Keith Raniere & Allison Mack

amplifying the nothing is a work of remarkable efficiency. Two acts, one intermission, and a little pre-performance showboating unspool in less than an hour during its premiere at Triskelion Arts. This isn’t because Erin Cairns Cella and Dages Juvelier Keates, who perform together as E/D, are in a hurry. In fact, they and the piece maintain a leisurely pace. It’s because they’re good editors, presenting a small but striking selection of movement tableaux and sculptural motifs that linger in my mind.

Two women sit on their knees, leg apart
E/D’s amplifying the nothing at Triskelion Arts; Photo by Karla Carballar

Sporting low-cut, bespangled rompers, the duo finds themselves at an all-inclusive resort, the kind that dots the beaches of the Caribbean. With their backdrops of gorgeous sunsets and expansive infinity pools, these resorts promise equal parts relaxation and intoxication. A trip to one acts as the ultimate reward for those whose 9-5 jobs have bled into all-nighters and working weekends. 

Adopting an attitude of knowing nonchalance, E/D poses like bathing beauties, bounces through an aerobics workout, and boogies as a disco ball spins. Their bodies are often supine or crouched, their hands and knees tethering them into positions of forced repose. With their teeth bared in smiles that can register as grimaces, they pulsate and slink with suggestive flair. 

Two women arch their backs while balancing on their toes and head
E/D’s amplifying the nothing at Triskelion Arts; Photo by Karla Carballar

But are they actually having fun? Critiques about the performance of leisure pierce the sparkling surface like shark fins.

A vacation should be the opposite of work, but the hive nature of an all-inclusive resort requires a certain execution of fun, particularly for women. Swap the business suit or the scrubs for swimwear or sundresses, and then bask in the sunshine of the male gaze. Yet it’s not enough to dress the part. Even on vacation, a woman must stay fit with yoga and laps in the pool. She should keep busy with karaoke and primping. Can she come home without having done or been anything other than fabulous? How will anyone envy her if all she’s done is sleep?

Two women raise their arms above their head like cheerleaders
E/D’s amplifying the nothing at Triskelion Arts; Photo by Karla Carballar

Jascha Narveson’s score unveils the anxiety lurking beneath the “fun.” Surfacing from a blanket of unsettling electronica, hits by Enya and Miley Cyrus start peppy but end distorted. During intermission, The Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” sounds as we play a game in our programs (we circle the props we’d save if a metaphorical ship sinks). The joke, of course, is that “Kokomo” is pretty much a sales pitch. It’s a fictional island where a guy wants to take his gal, so they can lose themselves in booze and sex. 

One woman lies face-down on the floor as another sticks a microphone in her face
E/D’s amplifying the nothing at Triskelion Arts; Photo by Karla Carballar

David Glista’s carefully considered lighting texturizes the proceedings with metaphorical insights. In the opening sequence, the lights blink on and off as Cella and Keates saunter downstage. Another time, each stands against individual half-circles of light as fuzzy darkness spills around them. At that moment, it seems as if the sun has been cracked in half, its promise of warmth and nourishment nothing more than an illusion.

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