This Sunday at Crosstown Arts, Joel Parsons will present a performance titled "Beholding and Being Held" that is part of the sculptor's month-long exhibition "You are the Hole." It involves "classical ballet, social dance, endurance, the surrogate performance or emotion, emergencies of feelings, and Celine Dion." And holes, of course.
"You Are the Hole" — Parson's collection of awkward, orifice-shaped sculptures paired with pale peach drawings and lovingly messy assemblages — is the artist's first major solo effort in town, though Parsons teaches art at Rhodes and is a regular curator around town. He started the work that culminated in "You are the Hole" when he began seeing his partner, the Ballet Memphis dancer and choreographer Steven McMahon. "There was this language that [McMahon] spoke that I didn't have access to," Parsons says. "It became clear to me that this was a good way to talk about relationships." Parson's attempts at understanding are realized in improved pointe shoes (a halved and crumpled coke can bound by masking tape) and gauzy pink light fixtures.
Likewise, Parson's performance, "Beholding and Being Held" will work some of the same themes as his precariously balanced artworks: vulnerability, messiness, trying to understand another person but failing time and again. Says Parsons, "Loving someone is about this attempt. This kind of blind groping in the dark toward them. Whether you really ever find them, I don't know. But the attempt is important."