Performance artist, writer, thinker, agent provocateur: Kimberly Dark returns to Sydney for another stirring exploration of politics, power, feminism and gender. She speaks with Serkan Ozturk.
Kimberly Dark – performance artist, sociologist and writer – has been named by the likes of The Advocate and Campus Pride as one of the best speakers to regularly perform at American colleges. After five solo-performances in recent years traversing a gamut of topics such as the existing gender binary, queer identities, race, class and sexuality, Dark will be hitting Australian shores for only the second time early next month with her one-woman, audience-defined show Good Fortune.
To take place at Slide Lounge on Monday, December 3, Good Fortune will see Dark ask the audience to choose from 46 images from a ‘tarot deck’ to help form the makeup of the night’s show, with each image corresponding to a provocative poem or story from her 15 year repertoire in performance and print.
Dark, 44, came to Australia for the first time last year for the Women Say Something event, ‘The Real F word’, which cast a spotlight on what feminism meant to women today.
“I participated as a panellist and would love to see events like that every time – fun and social while being provocative and proactive,” she tells SX.
“I think audiences can handle a lot of complexity and still have a good time.
“Good Fortune offers a surprising mix of stories, and wow, that’s how life works too. But in the storytelling, there’s time to reflect and laugh and consider – and breathe.”
And with that she hopes she can take the audience on a journey closer to a psychedelic ritual than simply just another talking ego gallivanting on a stage.
“It’s a type of shamanism, really,” Dark says. “People who work on stage spend years honing what they do, and yet, there’s always an element of surprise when we walk out into the spotlight. That’s because the audience is in the performance too. The spotlight sets up the ruse that it’s all about the performer. What crap! We’re moving energy from the stage, with a whole bunch of people witnessing and either holding or moving their own energy.”
A key theme in Good Fortune will be the nexus of love, sex, politics and power which Dark says are the “most vibrant ways we experience life”. She wants audiences to think about power at a deeper level than just a sense of trying to dominate others.
“That’s one expression, but by no means the only one. We all have relationships with power,” she explains. “We can express power or partner with it or amass it or argue against it. I think it’s important to remember that power is not just something ‘out there’ in the government or in other people. Power is in each of us. We are creating power every moment of every day just by being alive and interacting with others in the world.
“Whether we’re aware or not, we’re always either wielding or wasting our power.
Though she has never really considered herself a part of academia, Dark continues to teach in a graduate program in Sociological Practice at California State San Marcos and occasionally in the Sociology Department at University of Hawaii. She tells SX that her “multiple identities” continue to provide her with much material to reflect upon.
“I’m a professor and a parent and a woman. I’m fat and queer and middle-aged and so much more. I think that those of us who have some laudable identities can do more to bump out the boundaries on who gets to receive privilege,” she says.
“Most people have moments when they’re privileged and other moments when they’re oppressed – in different amounts and ratios, of course.
“I talk about all the ways we invent the world, everyday, often without realising what we’re doing.”
[Image] Kimberly Dark. Photo: Roni Galganp
Good Fortune is on Monday, December 3, at Slide, Darlinghurst. Go to www.slide.com.au