Rituals, such as weekly church, or regular yoga practice, create order from the body’s chaos of possible positions by, for a short duration, forcing it to focus on one task at a time.
My video yoga instructor Darren Rhodes says, “We come into these shapes and we get a break from thinking our own thoughts,” a welcome, needed respite from the real.
At the end of each day, I watch an episode of some TV serial just before I fall asleep. My grandmother performs her ritual mid-day, as The Bold & The Beautiful airs on CBS. Stella told me that for years of her childhood, her mother would tape that day’s Days of Our Lives to watch with dinner as a family.
Rituals perform a dual function. With their repetition, they relax me, I let my guard down, allowing the ritual’s second function to take over: imprinting a worldview.
In the 1930s, Paul Lazarsfeld, a Columbia University researcher, supposedly pinpointed the two major gratifications of soaps.
1. To escape ——> to get away from the drudgery of life
2. To guide ——> to learn how to live
Yet don’t escape and guidance seem contradictory?
Maybe a stretch is not only a way of escaping tension, but of building the body’s capacity, inscribing potential, a way it could move. While aiming for one target, to chill the fuck out, maybe I hit two targets. By escaping, I learn. By dreaming, I expand what’s real.
Season 8 of the 80s primetime soap Dallas ends with Pam in bed, awoken by the sound of the shower running. Her boyfriend Bobby, played by Patrick Duffy, had been killed off the previous season, so that Duffy, the actor, could pursue other career opportunities. But as Pam enters and yanks back the curtain, it’s, it’s Bobby. “Pam? Honey, what’s the matter?” he says.
Bobby’s funeral had drawn record ratings, but after a year of unfortunate roles, including voicing a goat, the producers lured Patrick Duffy back to Dallas.
But how to explain his character’s death, and all the events, an entire year of life?
“It’s over. None of that happened. We’re together, and I love you,” he says. “And I’m getting you all wet.”
“Bobby, don’t ever leave me.”
“I won’t. I love you.”
And with those words, a year became one woman’s dream. Pam and the audience went on living, but…..every day, every event, was tinted with doubt, never quite knowing if she was living life or a glorious painting of her own creation.
Painted Dreams is a darkly comic and empathetic queering of soap opera history that explores the cliches and contradictions of gender. Disney figurines and Proctor&Gamble products commingle, altering each other’s meanings, while the series' voiceover imagines what would happen if, instead of traveling the world, the narrator of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil stayed home and watched All My Children. Lush in domestic ooze, Painted Dreams shuffles ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ ‘real,’ ‘fake’ until they become indistinguishable and androgynous.
Full Cast: Stella Corso, Emily Hunerwadel, Ish Klein, Sarah Lanzillotta, Andrew McAlpine, Sarah Beth McAlpine, Vick Quezada, Caroline Raynor, Caroline Belle Stewart, Jonathan Volk
Music by Jon Ruseski
Written & Directed by Patrick Bella Gone
Produced with support from Northampton Media
Patrick Bella Gone is an artist raised in central Pennsylvania. Their work investigates the soft language of cultural objects, often staging the confrontations of chosen and inherited identities. Gone's recent performance & video work has appeared at the Queens Museum, Bronx Academy of Art & Dance, AS220, & Dixon Place. They are a 2017 MassMOCA Assets for Artists Fellow & the author of The Impersonators (Factory Hollow Press, 2017).