Frank performed “Wrapping/Rocking” as part of the “Masters of the Mind – San Francisco Performance Artists” weekend at the Art Department Gallery in Denver in 1987. Mark Pauline, of Survival Research Laboratories, performed on the second night.
Karen Briede’s Art Department Gallery was part of her work/living space where she also did hairdressing.
Below is the letter that Frank wrote to Cecilie, a local person who Karen had found to perform with Frank as part of his cast. This was the first time that Frank described “Wrapping/Rocking” in written form.
1812 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94703
Karen of the Art Department Gallery said you will be in my performance, Wrapping/Rocking, on May 8. I am glad to have you on board. She also said you had at least one other person to be a dancer. Because of changes in the piece, we need 2 to 3 additional nude dancers (that makes a total of 4 to 5 nude dancers plus you). Could you help Karen to get these?
I will get the times and dates out of the way, then get to the meat of the piece.
Linda and I get to Denver Tuesday afternoon the 5th. I want to get together with you and the dancers Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for 2-4 hours. On Friday, we will meet at the Gallery at 6 P.M. to put our body make-up on before the performance. Would you pass this information on to the dancers? Also, would you call us Tuesday night at the Art Department (303 892-0352) to confirm the rehearsals?
I am enclosing the poem which Linda will read over and over throughout the piece.
As the piece begins, I am lying on a mat. You are bending over me, rocking. Your nude body brushes over me in this dance to the live drums beating. Although our bodies are always in physical contact during this dance, our bodies will be only barely touching.
During this dance, the nude, body-painted dancers will greet each person at the door, will perform a ritual of kissing and washing of feet, give him Somala (a magical potion) and then will lead him to his special sitting spot on the floor near us.
When the last is seated, the dancers will lift each of us onto the lap of an audience member. There we wait as they replace the mat with my wheelchair. The dancers will then lift me into the chair and you onto my lap.
We start rocking together, moving together. We start making sounds together. The live music will respond to our sounds and movement. The dancers move slowly round us in a sensual ritual. Slides start being projected onto our nude bodies. Linda starts reading the poem.
Our movements, our rocking, and our sounds should cover the range of emotions of the poem … sometimes comforting and child-like, sometimes suffering and in pain … magical … sexual … insane … etc. But never linear, one emotion should not lead to another, but just flow out of us. In this way, our rocking and sounds will become a chant that will put the audience into a magical trance.
As the poem is being read over and over, the dancers will slowly create a web of ribbon, cellophane, toilet paper, and tin foil … ultimately connecting, wrapping, everyone up together.
The end will be us sitting nude in soft light in the remains of the web, talking with the audience.
In rehearsals, we will not go through the entire piece. We will focus on getting comfortable with each other, and on exploring sounds and movements which we will use.
Hope I have given you the feeling of the piece and of what will be involved. If you have any questions, feel free to call me. Is there a number where we can reach you?
I am looking forward to working with you.