The San Francisco International Arts Festival is underway. The Chronicle?s Pink section asked me to talk with former Contraband member Jess Curtis, whose trans-Atlantic collaboration ?Touched? is one of the festival?s banner events:
?The images in [Curtis?s previous work] “Fallen,” which premiered just after Sept. 11, 2001, hit many viewers on a gut level. Chalk outlines of bodies, like those at a crime scene, were drawn on the stage. In one section, a man and a woman sparred over an egg, the violence escalating as their object of dispute perilously avoided dropping toward destruction.
In another moment, two men staged a finger-puppet show behind a table, their hands walking to the edge and tumbling down.
“I wanted to be really clear,” Curtis says. “We’re talking about falling in love. We’re talking about falling asleep. My more arty Berlin friends say, ‘You don’t have to explain so much to me.’ ”
The images in “Touched” should prove just as potent. An early showing of the work included a scene in which a circus artist held a handstand as a man traced her body from one foot and across her scantily clad crotch to the other. Blindfolds were kept close at hand at rehearsals so that the dancers could hone their senses.
“It’s been super-interesting looking at the question of what feelings are in the body,” says Curtis, who despite his theoretical leanings has an endearing habit of using “super” and “for sure” as intensifiers. “If I touch you, there’s a sensation. But when I’m touched by something just emotionally, it also creates a physical sensation in the body. Emotion is physical sensation as well. And we want to look at how being touched emotionally is as physical as having someone’s skin on yours.” ?