Project Hazmatic: Score For Body As Cautionary Tale by Willa Carroll

Eco-ritual and apocalyptic pilgrimage, “Project Hazmatic: Score for Body as Cautionary Tale” follows an array of wayfarers through endangered landscapes. Scored by a dystopian poem cycle and an ambient sound collage, kinetic explorers don yellow hazmat suits as protective membranes and second skins.
(official description)

One of the most impressive author-made videopoems I’ve ever seen, Project Hazmatic: Score For Body As Cautionary Tale debuted in TriQuarterly in January 2021, and went on to win Best Poetry Film at the International Migration & Environmental Film Festival.

Willa Carroll is an up-and-coming, NYC-based poet whose 2018 collection, Nerve Chorus, was a small press bestseller. “Her poetry video and multimedia work has been featured in Interim Poetics, Narrative Outloud, TriQuarterly, Writers Resist, and other venues. […] Carroll has collaborated with numerous artists, performers, and filmmakers,” including cinematographer Andreas von Scheele and choreographer Susannah Keebler.

Here’s how Sarah Minor described Project Hazmatic at Triquarterly, in her typically lucid prose:

Combining poetry, performance art, and moving image, “Project Hazmatic: Score For Body As Cautionary Tale” reveals the yellow hazmat suit to be a sheath, a container, a figure, and an effigy that can move in surprising ways across landscapes. While two suits blow empty across a beach, inflating with wind to make ghost shapes, a voice recites: “Skin, a bridge, a porous equation, overworked for centuries, unhinge the jaws, swallow all, a black air.” This project features a long sound poem in eleven sections with titles like “Score for Body as Thirst Suit,” “Score for Body as Durational Performance,” and “Score for Body as Wild Processional.” Its images and language think together about the purported lines among human, animal, and landscape that are often delineated by porous skins, and about the environmental degradation across the strata of many beings: “We play a game with no score, down on all fours, call all ill animals to the yard, sweeten the debris you feed them, jump the electric fence, a species link.” Part object lesson, part evolutionary retelling (“Flowers precede the bees, whales flunk back into the oceans”), “Project Hazmatic” also demonstrates the shared goals of texts that stretch the possibilities of language and video performances that pose and re-pose questions through repeated shapes, colors, and horizon lines.

To see more of Carroll’s videos, browse the Multimedia page on her website. We’ll be following her work with keen interest.

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