Kimberly Bartosik's You Are My Heat and Glare © Ian Douglas
Kimberly Bartosik's You Are My Heat and Glare
© Ian Douglas
Kimberly Bartosik’s You Are My Heat and Glare is the first piece I have seen in New York Live Arts’ third floor convertible performance space. The audience was led in groups of three to grab our seats, as Gelsey Bell and Dave Ruder sang rounds of a simple ballad with lyrics about love being a mystery. (That might sound hokey, but it wasn’t. Both Ms Bell and Mr Ruder are fine singers, with an ease and confidence about them that allowed them to command our attention even as they lightly hypnotized us.)

Much of this piece revolves around its lighting: Ms Bartosik’s longtime lighting designer Roderick Murray (who is also her husband) manipulates much of the stark lighting throughout the piece, often hovering near the edges of the marley. In the piece’s first section, he is illuminating Ms Bartosik with a small flashlight, as she writhes and changes positions amidst a tangle of orange extension cords.

You Are My Heat and Glare © Ian Douglas
You Are My Heat and Glare
© Ian Douglas
Ms Bartosik lets her supple arches dangle in the air as she lies on her back; later, their bodies interact – she splays across his legs. You Are My Heat and Glare feels most like a trio of duets, though it is difficult to find the connection between the three. (Not that I necessarily need a connection.) Ms Bartosik and Mr Murray move with precision and efficiency, but not with hurriedness. The air that exists between them feels like a precise kind of love or relationship: It is factual, and concerned with the quotidian task at hand of lighting and relighting Ms Bartosik in different positions. 

Ms Bell and Mr Ruder also serve as section bookends, periodically beginning their song again with the same ease and languidness. When Joanna Kotze and Marc Mann appear, everything quickly becomes much more stark. For the first half of their lengthy duet, they quiver and clench their bodies with such force it looks as if they are battling gravitational force. Perhaps this is what Ms Bartosik means when she asks in her promotional materials, "What are we made of but hunger and rage?" Ms Kotze’s full-body shake is earthed in tension and anger; Mr Mann’s seems more transitional. They appear to be in a silent argument that we are watching unfold in very, very, very slow motion. What could easily seem one-trick-ish and routine is endlessly fascinating.

Gelsey Bell and Dave Ruder © Ian Douglas
Gelsey Bell and Dave Ruder
© Ian Douglas

When the two of them reappear for the last of their mini duets, they are bathed in red light and clothed in hoodies and thick sweatpants, their faces and hands obscured. Rage is still present as they stand head to head, leaning on each other for support, but there is also something sensual and even feral. Slowly, they remove each other’s sweatpants (underneath are biker shorts) and unzip each other’s hoodies. There is a sense of reconciliation, but still with simmering rage beneath.

****1