Essay The Powers
CREATION MYTHS FOR FEMINIST FUTURES
The Powers is a band, artistic collaboration and research group comprised of Emily Pelstring, Jessica Mensch and Katherine Kline. In live performance, music and videos we invoke a pantheon of characters, and engage them in alternative mythology. Our most recent project, Sistership TV, is a livestreamed variety show that expands our speculative world into a yet broader Gesamtkunstwerk.
Each episode of Sistership is a trip through our maximalist universe. We introduce our friends—sax-playing squids, bird-healers, ghosts of beloved cats. We channel mythological she-monsters and maternal ancestors, and we make a mockery of the shitty wizards in our midst.
The classical mythological trope of the three sisters, such as the fates and the gorgons, are reclaimed and remediated in this work. While the gorgons disrupt the hero’s journey, the fates are responsible for dispensing multiplicitous realities, for weaving patterns of relational threads between all sorts of weird beings. The Powers take these responsibilities seriously.
Such realities require different stories. Different kinds of heroes. And they demand major redistributions of power. To this end, the Powers tell the story of The Shape: a creation myth for a universe proliferating with archetypal forces and other-than-human collaborators. A place for decadently absurd play. This is a universe well-suited for a crone.
In the spring of 2014, in a dank basement studio, Pelstring and Kline gathered with some synthesizers and drum machines, a collection of self-help cassette tapes, a video mixer, a camera and a projector. From this circuit of machines, energy and information, sprung an astonishing shape: a video diamond spouting rainbow goo in all directions.
In the distorted voice of psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller, it announced itself with the ominous statement: “I have The Powers.” Pelstring and Kline understood, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this talking shape had been biding its time, waiting for the right circumstances to make itself known.
The Shape is a phantasmagorical being erupting in all the colours of the spectrum. It is a portal into a rich labyrinth of mysteries, and a site from which other-dimensional beings emerge.
At the behest of The Shape, Pelstring and Kline began to create ritual performances, inviting others to assemble around this powerful deity. These ritual spaces affirm all sorts of reassembled identities—technological, creatural, humanoid, and spectral—in flamboyant, noisy, goofy eruptions. These performances became a band called The Powers. In 2015, the fates were summoned: Mensch joined the band, and The Powers became a triune.
The Powers use performative myth-making to confront all-too-repetitive stories, and to unleash alternate cosmologies. Our approach is collaborative and decadent as we co-create weird worlds for play, experimentation, humour, and healing.