The 19-year-old star told the Los Angeles Times that she’s teaming up with Tyler Cole for a 24-hour performance focused on anxiety at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles, California.
The event commences on Wednesday morning and will see Smith and Cole transition through eight stages of anxiety while inside a box.
The two will spend three-hour blocks exploring a different anxiety-related emotion -- including sadness, paranoia and compassion -- without speaking. “We might grunt or scream -- it’s going to be very primal,” Smith told the outlet.
Smith also shared how her struggle with anxiety as a young girl made her tense up so badly that she still suffers neck pain. Much of her battle came from the fear of the unknown.
“We’re on this planet and anything could happen, like the thing that just happened with Kobe [Bryant]? That was really a knife in the heart,” she said. “Every moment is precious. And I think everyone has a fear of just not knowing what’s going to happen in the future, not knowing if you’re on the right path, not knowing if you’re making the right choices.”
Smith said she eventually turned to therapy, meditation and Buddhist texts to help her cope.
She and Cole have also been exploring the struggle in their upcoming album, The Anxiety, which is where the idea for Wednesday’s live performance stemmed from.
“We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be so interesting if we could personify this experience? Starting from being scared and feeling alone and moving to a place of acceptance and joy?" she said. "We understand this is a very sensitive subject. And, we don’t want to be like, ‘Our experience is the experience.’ This is just us expressing our personal experience with this.”
“This is not so that people are like, ‘Oooh!’ This is for awareness,” Smith also said about the idea. “The first thing we’re going to be writing on our title wall is something along the lines of: ‘The acceptance of one’s fears is the first step toward understanding.’ So, then you know this is on something real. This is for a real cause.”
Fans will be able to watch Smith and Cole in the box for 15-minute periods, before entering a room with self-help books and ways to donate to mental health organizations.
As soon as the performance wraps, The Anxiety will be released. Smith said the record gave her the chance to showcase a new side of herself, which allowed her to “scream and get raunchy.”