Art21’s New York Close Up recently produced a video of Jon Kessler and Mika Rottenberg’s performance for the 2011 Performa biennial, in which they “juiced the chakras” of the seven participants. What does “juicing a chakra” mean, you ask?
Well. Each participant is assigned one of the seven chakras and its corresponding color. After riding a stationary bicycle, they sit in a sauna-like chamber where their chakra (read: sweat) is collected and prepared with the correct color. A resident mad scientist, played by Empress Asia (a former pro-wrestler and sometimes dominatrix), then symbolically ships the rainbow-colored sweat to Ethiopia, or the cradle of mankind.
Rottenberg connects two disparate societies through intangible elements at the essence of humanity. "What art tries to do is take this abstract substance of being alive, the thing that cannot be manifested, and tries to capture it into an object and make it something that’s tangible,” she says. Rottenberg instructed her subjects not to emote too much—she’s more interested in the natural reactions of the body and the material results. However, Empress Asia had some trouble trying not to ham it up.