Performance art often gives way to all sorts of unconventional, metaphysical explorations of the self through channels that, for the most part, rarely require audiences to call upon their “inner salamander” in order to get the gist of a piece. But in Karl Frost’s participatory performance work “Axolotl,” it’s a necessity.
“Axolotl,” which means blind, albino salamander, is a two-hour interactive performance piece in which audience members wearing blindfolds explore their surroundings and one another. While Frost, the director of the experimental theater group Body Research, doesn’t expect participants to take the name literally, the performance can certainly leave folks feeling much like the sightless critter.
At its core, “Axolotl,” which comes to the Mission District-based art collective Million Fishes today and returns Aug. 9 and 10, is an exploration of human interconnection that addresses the question: What is a meaningful experience?
Frost is deliberately vague with details concerning what exactly transpires during an “Axolotl” performance in order to foster a unique experience of self-discovery.
“What happens each time is different; it really depends who comes to the show, what they bring and what their curiosities are,” he says.
“Audience members might have different interactions with performers,” says the Seattle-based contemporary dancer. “Some may be conversational, others kinesthetic — any kind of interaction is up for grabs. It’s kind of hard to sum up what happens, it really goes all over the map. I don’t come into the show with a set script of interactive experiences that I intend to replicate.”
Frost, who majored in physics at UC Berkeley and was also an active member of the dance community, devised the idea for “Axolotl” three years ago in Seattle, but the seeds for the piece were planted years earlier while in Europe.
“I’m constantly amazed each time that 40 people packed into the same space can come out with such wildly different experiences. Responses can range from someone having a tremendously joyful experience to something really dark or even boring,” he says. “It isn’t one show each night, it’s a number of different shows for each individual experience.”
When: 8 p.m. today, Aug. 9 and 10
Where: Million Fishes, 2501 Bryant St., San Francisco
Tickets: $12 to $30
Contact: (206) 790-1645, www.bodyresearch.org