Theaters

Miguel Gutierrez’s “myendlesslove” at Abrons Arts Center

by Jillian Steinhauer on January 17, 2014

Top: Miguel Gutierrez and Conor Voss performing "myendlesslove" (photo by Bylan Douglas); bottom: Miguel Gutierrez in "myendlesslove" (left photo by the author for Hyperallergic, right photo by Bylan Douglas)

Top: Miguel Gutierrez and Conor Voss performing “myendlesslove” (photo by Ian Douglas); bottom: Miguel Gutierrez in “myendlesslove” (left photo by the author for Hyperallergic, right photo by Ian Douglas)

Miguel Gutierrez’s “myendlesslove” is, as its title suggests, about love — but not just love in a classic, romantic sense. That is there, but in 50 minutes, Gutierrez also touches on love making (aka sex), love of self, and love of youth. He pulls all these themes out of a multi-faceted, if somewhat disjointed, piece whose variations of medium and tone are refreshing.

The current “myendlesslove” is a reconstruction of an earlier version of the work, from 2006. It features Gutierrez, five TVs with VCRs, two boomboxes, a microphone and loop pedal, another performer named Conor Voss, a video camera, a mirror, and a harmonica, give or take. It mashes many forms — theater, video, dance, and music — into a whole that’s much more complicated to explain than it is to watch. Throughout the piece, Gutierrez moves discreetly from one segment to the next, giving it a distinctly DIY feel.

“Myendlesslove” rides the wave of a series of love stories, marking the get-togethers and breakups that typify dating life. There’s the initial nervousness (the show begins with Gutierrez having a conversation with a videotaped version of himself, discussing a “first time”), there is the sex (videos of men having it), there are proclamations of love (“I love you love you love you … ” he sings, looping his own voice to create luscious harmonies), there are disappointments (“I went online last night / I didn’t meet anyone,” he sings) and comebacks (he dances naked in front of spotlights to club music).

But the most interesting relationships Gutierrez explores are the ones with himself and his age, and they’re mostly interestingly told through his primary medium, dance. Dancing naked (but for the boots), alone in the spotlight, Gutierrez is astonishingly honest. He stretches and bends to the cheesy music, his legs shake ever-so-slightly, and there the audience can sense and see the years inhabiting his body, just as we all feel them in our own.

Later in the show, Voss appears, a perfect male specimen if ever there was one (wearing only briefs, sneakers, and a baseball hat). The contrast of his small but muscular and pristine body with Gutierrez’s hairy thighs and rounded belly register immediately. The two engage in a kind of sexual power play, with Gutierrez eventually latching onto Voss’s crotch with his mouth; thus connected, they make their way around the stage — crawling, tumbling, rolling, walking, running, Gutierrez never letting go. It’s a physical feat laced with humiliation. At the end, he slurs his way through a song but seems redeemed somewhat when Voss begins mimicking his movements. The two lie on the floor and move in sync, their bodies slowly struggling through the difficulty of love.

Miguel Gutierrez’s “myendlesslove” ran at the Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) as part of the American Realness festival from January 11 to 13.

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