“To Us At Twilight” is both an installation and a 50 minute solo performance, a collage of dreams, recounted stories, objects, movement and tableaux – a compelling blend of images and speech.”
In the performance, thirty black dresses cover the floor, are folded, worn, piled and moved as a heritage of graveyards, bad blood, secrets and family loyalties is explored. Generations of women walk the razor’s edge of madness under a veil of southern manners and genteel eccentricity. Weaving the personal and the social, “To us at Twilight…” evokes emotionally charged archetypes as it addresses issues of racism , sexism and the hopeful persistence of the human spirit. For further detailed description see reviews.
To Us At Twilight… was commissioned by and presented at Performance Space 122 in 1990. The performance was expanded to include an installation and presented at Artist Space, NYC in 1993. In 1994 King Plow Art Center commissioned further development of the installation and performance for The Atlanta Arts Festival.
ARTIST SPACE PERFORMANCE VIDEO
PLACES PERFORMED/EXHIBITED: ARTIST’S SPACE, NYC; PERFORMANCE SPACE 122, NYC; NEW LANGTON ARTS, SAN FRANCISCO; CONTEMPORARY ART FORUM, SANTA BARBARA; KING PLOW ART CENTER, ATLANTA ARTS FESTIVAL, ATLANTA; SARRATT GALLERY & THEATRE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY, NASHVILLE.
PRODUCTION BUDGET, TECHNICAL REQUIREMENT AND SCRIPT AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
Artists' Space Performance Gallery:
PS 122 Performance Gallery:
To Us at Twilight
Performance & Installation
King Plow Art Center
Atlanta Arts Festival
The viewer entered the lower level gallery facing a 20ft illuminated dress hovering over a chair filled with fresh honeycomb.
Behind this was a 33 ft. long, 8ft high wall of auburn hair cascading onto a 35ft square floor covered in red-clay dirt.
Viewers then discovered a wall covered with mounted crystal glasses filled with milk facing the 20ft dress.
Walking up a ramp to the second level viewers passed an antique bed skirt – with a braid of hair and corn roots – embroidered with a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
“Thy woman’s hair, my sister, all unshorn
disheveled strength in agony…”
Viewers also passed the following pieces while walking up the ramp:
(Above left) “SweetBriar Woods in March” 1994 sheer curtain fabric, leaves, paint, blood, thorns, snake skin, graphite.
(Above right) “Beechwood Needs Pruning in Spring” 1994 cotton lace dress, beechwood buds.
“Whispers” three slips, seed pod, dried leaves, embroidery hoops, honey, hand embroidered linen handkerchief, text by Mary Oliver:
Dress 1 “have you dared to count the months as they pass and the years”
Dress 2 “while you imagine pleasure,”
Dress 3 “shining like honey, locked in some secret tree?…”
Upon entering the larger upper level the viewer encountered 13 works using black dresses and other materials mounted on the walls. This was also the area used for the performance of “To Us At Twilight…” (below)
The following seven images show details of the dresses and other objects in the installation, each bore text from and were related to the performance.
(Below) “Cousin Becky” 1994 vintage dress, straight pins, rose petals, text. The text below was written on an old typewriter and pinned, line by line, to the dress.
“My first cousin Becki, we were the same age. She would sit for hours picking at the skin of her wrist and forearm with a straight pin. She would carefully slide the point underneath the first layer of skin and then twist it down until the blood slowly surfaced or sometimes she would make quick repetitive jabs. She was always absorbed in the minutest details of this procedure, and though the results were obvious, we never spoke of them, nor did anyone else. My observations were covert. We were both nine.
By the swimming pool I would watch her move along the bottom, her arms seemed to waver and spread like wings. Years later I dream of a bird who clings to my window. Eyeball to eyeball we communicate in clicks and chirps. The bird pushes his way feet first through the glass and as he does the pieces of his body come apart and fall to the floor.”
(Left) “In The Graveyard” 1993 antique dress, honeysuckle vine, *text from “To Us At Twilight”,
(Middle) “Mud Pies” 1993 thorns, red-clay, dress, glue, *text from “To Us At Twilight…”,
(Right) “Nell McNeill Dew & the Pharaoh’s Daughter” antique dress, dried roses, bricks, photo, text
(Far Right) “Breast Dress” 1994 vintage dress, fabric
January/February 1995 Volume 19, Number 1
By Elizabeth Lide
ALYSON POU: TO US AT TWILIGHT
Arts Festival of Atlanta
King Plow Arts Center
“Alyson Pou transformed the cavernous two-level gallery space at the King Plow Center into a place of dreams, stories, objects, movement, and tableaux, thoughtfully considering the architecture of the space to present her exquisite installation and performance, “To Us at Twilight."
Charles Olson wrote, “Whatever you have to say, leave the roots on, let them dangle and the dirt just to make clear/Where they came from.”
By leaving the roots on and not hiding of what and where they came, Pou not only created a memorial to her own ancestry but a memorial to all women – their passions, sensuality, earthiness – the state of being connected to themselves and to generations of females before the confusion inflicted by social pressures. For three nights, the installation became an environment for her 50-minute solo performance, which Pou has previously performed at P.S. 122 and Artists’ Space in New York and the Contemporary Art Forum and New Langton Arts in California. The installation has evolved over several years, with new objects and dresses being introduced as each engagement and site specific work developed.”