Project Description

 Tara Aisha Willis – Durational Performance of a Day for November 3rd, 2020

One of ten scores created especially for the  presidential election in the USA on November, the 3rd 2020.

Follow this score in its entirety or in parts, as best suits your situation. Read through it and prepare in advance as best you can, or start cold and return to it throughout the day for the next instruction. Add your own alternative instructions, as needed.

a. Do not vote if you have already voted.

    1. You may have already dropped off a vote-by-mail envelope without waiting in early-voting lines.
    2. Or you may have realized plans unravel amidst bureaucracy and budget cuts when nothing showed up by mail, so you waited in line to vote early and hoped that when you walked up to the poll worker your records were correct, at least.
    3. Or you may have planned to vote early all along and shared a photo of your “I Voted” sticker on social media afterwards.
    4. Either way, you may have realized by now that advance planning for the potential of failure is the only way to plan in dystopia.
    5. Remember, now, that even if sometimes the plans succeed and the ballot is cast successfully, there is no guarantee it will be counted, or that it will have an effect, if it is.
    6. Remember, now, that it is the fact and the act of having the plan that keeps some kind of hope at the back of the mind, even if it’s engineered in preparation for everything to go even more towards wrong.

b. If, instead, your plan for failure requires voting on election day:

    1. Arrive early.
    2. Pack yourself into warm layers (if you are in parts of the country that require it).
    3. Bring snacks and hydration.
    4. Prepare to wait a long time for your turn, and hope you can get wherever you’re going afterwards on time.
    5. After getting your “I Voted” sticker, do not put it on or take a picture of it for social media; save it until the day you die and pass it on to someone you love in your will.
    6. As you leave the polls, cry a little into your face mask on your way wherever.

c. Regardless of your plan for failure, spend the day trying to stay calm and conserve energy. There will be many things to feel in the days ahead.

    1. Protect your mealtimes.
      • Prepare for them carefully.
      • Savor everything.
      • Share the ritual with others or relish the quiet time alone joyfully, without distraction.
    2. Make a list of ways to care for yourself and the ones you love. Use your list to modulate your intake.
      • Take at least a moment before your day begins to practice whatever form of prayer and grounding you need: partake in spiritual practice, listen to Nina Simone on vinyl, light candles, clean the tub, stare at trees out the window, call a friend.
      • If you are one of the fortunate people to whom election day has been given this year as a holiday for the first time by your employers, despite this country’s refusal to acknowledge it as such nationally, there should be plenty of time to engage these practices in between news-bites throughout the morning.
      • Ration your social media and news updates as the results draw nearer. Instead of following the polls, read articles about how to prepare for a coup.

d. Regardless of how well your self-modulation is going, take time to envision futures well beyond the immediate result of this election.

    1. Choose science fiction stories to read or watch, but not in order to imagine deeper dystopias or over-fantasize about the possibility of a more just future.
      • Because what is happening now in this place currently called the U.S. has been happening all along and yet never until now so blatantly and with such awareness from so many and yet such extreme disregard, use these stories to remind yourself of the potency of a single moment in time or a single act’s urgency.
      • Because the results are necessarily impossible to imagine in advance and will definitely be painful for decades to come, regardless of who wins, use these stories to remind yourself of how miniscule one life or one decade is in the marching and folding of time.
      • Use these stories to remind yourself that it’s still possible to imagine these things, at all.
    2. Write a note to yourself about the distant future, and save it for later.
      • In your note, do not dare to imagine that future with precision.
      • Imagine the ways you’d like to live and die no matter what happens tonight and long after today.
      • Imagine what kinds of things you’d like to impart to the people you love, work alongside, share time with.
      • Imagine what kind of imprint you want to see left on the world in the era of your own living.
      • Read the note again, anytime between tomorrow or twenty-five years from now. Consider putting it in your will along with the voting sticker.

e. Tune in to the news as the polls come in for as long or as short as you can stand.

    1. Gather a beverage to toast with and comfort snacks to eat. These can be used to both celebrate and commiserate, and should be consumed throughout, since no result will be clear cut or satisfactory.
    2. When you begin to feel a verdict becoming clear, whether tonight or the following days or weeks or months, turn to whoever you’re with (or simply close your eyes if you’re alone) and say aloud:
    1. “This dread is not existential. Today and every day are a matter of life and death. The danger is not over. The danger will not be over even if things change, even if that change unfolds smoothly. It’s time do those things that scare us, because they scare us. The gall of some to believe in their own right to power despite their mediocrity might be one day toppled by the courage of enough others who believe in power’s inadequacy altogether. What’s happening now is not new, just a reminder. Expect the worst. Because that expectation does not preclude making a plan, taking an action, having a hope. To prepare for failure is also to prepare for possibility.”

f. Go to bed and get up again tomorrow, as best you can.

Tara Aisha Willis
Chicago, Illinois, USA
October 31, 2020