Lament. New York and San Francisco. 2011 – 2013.
Performed at The International Home Theater Festival (NY), AUNTS (NY), Dance Mission (SF) ‘Goodbye 848’ (SF), PPP Dance (SF) and at KUNSTOFF arts (SF), THIS IS WHAT I WANT 2013, 2014 (SF), CounterPULSE (SF).

Lament is an interactive solo durational performance inspired by the phenomena of professional mourning.

Wills wears a highcut ‘Baywatch style’ swimsuit and moves backwards on her knees to the sound of Finnish mourners, dusting the floor with her hair. The piece reflects on the necessary erotic to the grieving process, and how that ties into the performance of gender of professional mourners; why is this a labour for women? What are the parallels between this labour and sex work, one of the other intimate labours that women’s bodies perform? Where does our individual erotic live in loss and death?

Audience members are invited to submit something that Wills will lament.
The invitation to participate is designed with your specific performance environment in mind. Past methods have included tweets, anonymous written requests, and live interviews. Wills uses a wig to complicate the performance of intimate labor (such as being paid to mourn for someone): is it fake? Is it drag? Does she really care ?
Inspired by Karelian professional mourners: ‘Itkivirsi’, and Ukelele’s work around maintenance art, this piece looks at the performative nature of grieving. “I’m interested in ‘women’s’ labor and the trancelike knife edge of integrity in assuming it, and executing it well”, Wills says.

“I have mourned for the pure aesthetic of it, for crimes, for dead spaces, for the end of things, for fake stories, for deep real personal losses of my own and other peoples, and for the everyday domestic loss that comes with any change, and can be an regular part of life”.

Thanks to Jyrki Haapala and Minna Katturnen.

Performed at 848 with Kolmel WithLove.

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Tessa Wills is a live artist

and choreographer with a background in music. She is from England, trained in central Europe and now lives in San Francisco. Her work elevates flaws and wounds as portals, ways of staging humanity, and often integrates eroticism to charge the pieces, which happen primarily on stage and video. Aside from the relentless pull of desire, her current practice is inspired by Hermits and professional mourning.

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