This past weekend, Tori Meyer and Arin Lynn invited Salt Lake City to their “housewarming” party, an evening-length, multidisciplinary Flash Project at Finch Lane Gallery that playfully engaged audiences in disrupting the border between public and private spaces, and that explored the absurdly, sweetly repetitive nature of the everyday.
Quotidien/Quotidian, as Meyer explained, was meant to let audiences “get bored” and to discover what might emerge from that feeling. While the point is well taken, it was hard to feel bored in the busy environment crafted by Meyer and Lynn. The artists make good use of Finch Lane Gallery as dancers and curators of their own lives. Meyer and Lynn open the show by positioning themselves outside on the balcony – framing themselves through two large sliding glass doors, sometimes in opposition to each other, sometimes moving in sync. The gallery itself was filled with objects from Meyer and Lynn’s home – objects of creative and sentimental value such as a collection of ceramic ducks, a shelf of baseball caps, a handmade “crooked house” by an eighth grade Lynn, and pieces of art made by friends in the community, including a beautiful illustration by local artist Nora Lang that couldn’t help but stand out even though it was hiding in a corner. These pleasant surprises are frequent throughout the piece. Colorful clutter that might fill up a house becomes somewhat dispassionate in the space of a gallery, forcing us to question the nature of performance and what our material world reflects, not on the aesthetics of the object, but rather about who we are.
The two performers, who are partners and who have recently moved in together, wanted to share “a collage of art we made during COVID,” said Lynn. This collage includes the object world, as well as recorded clips of dance made by Meyer and Lynn over the past year. Their choreography, which elegantly balances humor and technical skill, relied on subtle movements emphasizing hands and gesture. Repetition, a theme unto itself, and a sense of duality, felt especially important to the work, with Lynn and Meyer often returning to synchronous movement and symmetry. Lynn in particular emphasized a certain weightiness of (e)motion that grounded the choreography that might otherwise have floated away into the breezy use of lighthearted covers of ABBA’s song “Fernando.”
What may be most striking about the work was the range of emotions explored. Quotidien/Quotidian lets audiences oscillate between the curiosity felt when you visit a friend’s house for the first time, to the gratifying slap-happiness of a dance party (which was enjoyed by all in an advanced-hokey-pokey-style dance circle), to the intimate anxiety felt by partners when hosting people in one’s home. The piece reaches an apex when Lynn and Meyer have a mock argument about hosting friends. While the conceit of the argument was superficial, there was an edge, the edge of everyday repetition that comes from quotidian life, and pandemic life. Lynn and Meyer took this moment to create two poignant duets, not with each other, but with projections of themselves. Lynn in a rocking chair, and Meyer at a dining table, each paired with footage of the same scene filmed at home. These intimate duets, putting bodies into conversation with themselves, used repeated, contemplative gestures once again, creating a bittersweet beat.
Of course, audiences were not left to dwell in this melancholy for too long, as Meyer and Lynn joined each other for a delightful pas de deux across the gallery floor. The charismatic duo ostentatiously exaggerated their role as performers, delighting audiences with a vaudeville-esque ending. Far from the dullness that the name suggests, Quotidien/Quotidian reminds us to find pleasure in the performance of our day-to-day lives.
This article is published in collaboration with loveDANCEmore.org.
Max Barnewitz is a writer, comics enthusiast, and outdoor nerd based in Salt Lake City. Max graduated with an M.A. in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Utah in 2016. Their thesis, “The Animal As Queer Act in Comics: Queer Iterations in On Loving Women and Nimona” underscores the potential for comics to portray LGBTQ+ identities. They also serve on the organizing committees for Salt Lake’s Grid Zine Fest and for Queer Spectra Arts Festival.