Dorian Wood "Nodrissx/Narcissx" | LA Art Show

by Ryane Gonsalves

Photographed by  Frank Schemmann

Photographed by Frank Schemmann

Dorian Wood seeks to undress and exalt intimacy in a very public setting, challenging the viewer to participate in their performance. The point of the audience and artist collaboration is to induce some form of a lasting impression, whatever it might be. The combination of offering Dorian’s voice, body, and soul to the spectators creates a melodically stimulating and inviting experience paired with engagement levels at the discretion of the audience.

Dorian Wood will be performing Nodrissx/Narcissx, Wood will be in a chair in the center of a darkened room, covered from head to toe in a cloth, with a slit that exposes their left breast. The artist will have a microphone propped in front of their face. Attendees are invited to kneel in front of the artist and suckle on artist’s breast. Attendees may suckle on the breast for as long as they want. During the performance installation, artist will vocalize to a 4-channel soundscape created solely by the artist’s voice. Ahead of the LA Art Show we were fortunate enough to catch up with them to chat about body perversion, fetishism, and Janet Jackson.

What do you hope to accomplish with your performance, Nodrissx/Narcissx? What do you want others to take away or learn from this performance?

My only concern is that I don't have to pee in the 4 hours I'll be in that chair. 

Where did you get your inspiration for this performance? How did you get this idea?

Back in 2015, I performed a more primitive version of this piece at a festival in Castellón, a town in the Valencian community of Spain. The region is very Catholic, and a few visitors tried to hug me instead. I overheard one of the organizers encourage people to hug me, which I found to be a huge betrayal. And yet, that same organizer came to suckle on my breast three times. I knew he did because he would whisper in my ear each time "Dorian, I've returned." Fucking creeper. If he wanted my breast all to himself, he could have just said so. But here was the universal perversion of human contact exemplified. Demonizing it while fetishizing it. In the end, my intentions are purely loving and generous. God gave me this specific body, and the freedom to do what I choose with it. I am grateful for this, and I want to gift it to the world in the form of an intimate moment.

Photographed by Pablo Almansa

Photographed by Pablo Almansa

How does your vocalizing and soundscape tie in with your performance? What was it like creating the soundscapes? Do you know what your vocals will be during your performance?

I've known and loved my voice for longer than I have known and loved my body. Throughout my childhood and into adolescence, I would close my eyes and pretend that a thin lighter-skinned person projected the voice that came out of me. How fucked up is that? What did I expect would happen one day? So I decided to stop apologizing for my beautiful fat brown body because it just became exhausting and paralyzing, and this lit all sorts of fires under my voice. When I combine these two, I can easily turn into Carrie White and set the whole fucking gym on fire. But allowing myself to be consumed by resentment is only harmful to me, and there are only so many hours in a day. I can fucking control the thickness in a room with these pipes. I don't take this lightly, nor do I take credit for it. God makes it possible every time. God makes me do this shit. And I'm grateful again and again. I'm no better or worse than anyone. I just see it as my duty to offer this body to marvel at, this breast to suckle, this peaceful environment as a brief soother.  

Are you nervous to have so many people sucking on your breast? What are you expecting the experience to be like? Do you think people will be hesitant to participate in your exhibition?

Of course I'm nervous. I'm nervous stepping into the shower. I have no expectations for how it will go. Seriously, I don't. I've been told there will be an open bar, so that is an interesting added element.

If there are any, can you explain some of your other performances or artwork that are as intimate as Nodrissx/Narcissx?

Intimacy is endlessly fascinating to me. I'm very fortunate to have performed in situations that call for audiences of hundreds or just two, and I've felt extreme comfort and utter horror, depending on the collective chemistry. I drag my soul through the coals each time, and people choose to engage, or not. And it matters so much. The lure and threat of intimacy, both doing the nasty together, and I'm at the mercy of it all. I can't pinpoint specific things I've learned from beckoning a mutual energy from audiences and art appreciators. I think I know a great deal about people, but then I'm surprised constantly. I've recently done some performances of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814" on voice and piano. People might bring a familiarity with the album, and others will bring even less expectations, and I always wonder how people will take to such a delicate, soulful interpretation of a dance-heavy album? And each of these times, there is a collaborative essence we leave behind. A memory, an impression, or a bit of trauma. It's different in every case. This is a precious aftermath and what makes intimacy, or lack thereof, so crucial and interesting.