When I think of going to a spoken word event, what usually pops to mind is a mic, a voice, and some floral poetic language. This usually culminates in either an inspiring and uplifting call to action or a realisation of how insignificant human life really is at times. I also often imagine low lights, generally a spot, and a single, mystical looking figure dressed in black speaking at me (usually at me, sometimes to me, depending on the poet I guess).
What I don’t imagine, is VR headsets, partial nudity and witnessing the uncomfortable yet strangely sexual act of someone forcibly deep throating a print out of the entirety of the Wikipedia on China. Welcome to Roshelle Fong. I have seen this woman perform three times now and each time has left me with a strange and yet wonderful feeling that all is somehow complete fucked and simultaneously perfect in this world. Roshelle’s performance for Girls on Key was no different.
When I first arrived, I was disappointed to notice there was a cinema/bar happening in the room next door and we were squished into a tiny back room, enhancing my feelings that spoken word is often not given the stage it deserves in society. However, in honesty (and to the dismay of my ever eager critic), the sound didn’t overlap and the intimacy of that tiny room only worked to enhance the disturbing and yet alluring sensations I was about to experience.
Before Roshelle, Carmen Main shared a piece she had originally prepared for the Biscuits series set up by Ruckus. It set the tone up well with features such as the use of voice-over and props, in some way preparing us for what was to come. Carmen had mentioned it was something very different for her to try and I truly commend and respect her for stepping up and pushing boundaries into the world of performance art, and hope she continues to play with it further.
After a break, we were back for Roshelle’s set. Something Roshelle does absolutely as