Maximum Perception Title

7:12 pm

Needless to say this is an experiment for Hyperallergic and we’ll soon figure out what a brilliant or idiotic idea it is to liveblog performance art.

So far the stage has been set in the main gallery.


Main gallery at English Kills before the performances begin (click to enlarge)

7:20 pm

And we’re off … we’ve begun with Sister Mary Catherine in a Catholic school, someone acting as a little girl walks in.

YouTube video

Sister Mary Catherine just handed out a page titled “Quiz on Hell and the Devil” and a ballpoint pen. This is all more theater than what people know as performance art. It’s getting pretty funny.

7:38 pm

Maximum Perception 7:20pm

7:46 pm

Now the “stage” is bathed in red and images of hell appear projected beside the actors.

7:49 pm

Music and images are dominating the performance. An ominous voice is hard to understand but it sounds like we’re all going to hell.

Maximum Perception II

And lights turn on…first performance complete.

8:00 pm

Second performance begins…African singer with a large bulbous instrument. Crowd is more receptive and meditative to this.

8:06 pm

I’m finding there is so much going on and blogging with a weak wifi connection is tough. I’m really enjoying making the photo panorama’s though. I have also posted one video on my personal YouTube page:

The audience is a mix of young and old but more young than if this was a Chelsea performance.

Maximum Perception III

8:11 pm

So far the performance has veered away from traditional white box performance art and these feel like a mash up of life and social experience. I’m really enjoying the fact that the performances are vacillating between both gallery spaces at English Kills.

8:15 pm

Musical performance ends. It looks like he is normally a busker and he is accepting donations, which he is asking for with his thick West African accent. His performance was quite lovely and sounded rather magical.

8:20 pm

As they prepare for the next performance people are chatting. Everyone seems positive and upbeat. Got confirmation that the last performer normally does this on the street. He’s not someone who traditional performance in an art venue.

8:30 pm

Next performance has begun and everyone was asked to leave the room and each person must registered and be video’d stating their name and the words “Maximum Perception.” The process is moving slowly.

There is an extensive “official sounding” document they must sign. There are guards/escorts at the entrance wearing complete black.

Maximum Perception IV

I have to admit, I’m finding this all rather fun…liveblogging particularly.

8:47 pm

This process is going very slow and in the mean time I’m chatting with Brent Owens about the Miami art fairs and how alienating they are.

8:55 pm

Auction has begun. Social critique of the work of art. Audience member just asked a question. Bidding starts at $181.74  by someone who asked to pay in January. Someone beside me says, “Is she crazy.” Someone else just offered $150, the audience bursts out into laughter. Someone totally different just bid $250 and she won the item. Onto the next item.

He just started auctioning his tie and it just shot up to $30. Auctioneer asks if this will be cash & carry. She says yes and is paying for it and taking it. An usher brings it over with white gloves and hands it over to her.

I’ve convinced Brent to bid for me. And I just got a shirt for $35! WOOHOO!

Maximum Perception V

The next shirt goes for $25. Did I just overbid!?

Third shirt is up…bidding started at $10, went to $15 (though the auctioneer thought he said $50). Ok, now $17. I still thinking I got the best shirt…and yes, I overbid.

YouTube video

Now he’s auctioning the lectern. He’s started with a $7 bid. The woman beside me just told me to write, “This is insane but not that interesting.” Bidding is at $26…27…30…31…and it’s sold for $31. Polite applause ensues.

The auction concluded and he mentioned he will be making more shirts for a “show” at Grace Exhibition Space. The performance was by Mark Lawrence Stafford.

9:15 pm

People seem really interested in my liveblogging. People are hovering aroun. William Powhida just showed up … I saw him earlier at the Brooklyn Rail party and now he’s here (after an opening at Invisible-Export) … boy, he gets around.

9:28 pm

Free Bouncy Rides is here!!!! WOOHOO!!

Ok, they just broke the bench and there’s broken glass around from his framed sign.

Maximum Perception VI

They had to replace the bench. Jill from Grace Exhibition Space is up next. She seems to have had a blast. Someone is now sweeping up the broken glass. Now he’s getting really rowdy and he’s tossing a poor woman around as she bounces.

YouTube video

Now the videographer is being bounced. Everyone is getting into this … I mean, who doesn’t want a bouncy ride by someone who looks like a tricked out furry dolphin? Did I mention the soundtrack of the performance is mostly R&B?

Performance is over.

9:39 pm

Just ran into Kevin Regan of Famous Accountants. He just showed up from the new art show at Norte Maar and said it’s pretty awesome. Just met his wife, Shari. I just asked Kevin for a one sentence review of the “19th Nervous Breakdown” at Norte Maar:

It’s all about the Robert Frank piece. It’s all constructed around that piece. It’s not all photography. It’s a response to the Brooklyn Museum’s rock ‘n roll photo show.

Just got handed a flyer by Jason Robert Bell of the Maar show (he’s also in the show).

9:48 pm

Next performance has begun and some black woman just wrote WHITE POWER on a white man only in his underwear. He’s posted two pieces of paper on the wall that read: TEXT ME YOUR THOUGHTS: 646 491 2666.

He’s writing on things and just used a paper megaphone to ask if “Power has a color.” All the things he is writing are related to racial identity.

Maximum Perception VI

He has written and announced, “Kentucky Fried Power,” “Black Power” and a couple of other things. Now he has posted the board with words on the wall and has replaced it with another board.

9:55 pm

I was just asked if it would be easier to liveblog this with my iPhone instead of my laptop. I don’t think it would be. It’s harder to type on an iPhone and with my laptop I know the quality of my writing will be better.

Turns out he is writing whatever people are texting him. So feel free to text him from where ever you are I guess.

Other phrases he has written (been SMS’d) have so far included:

  • smoke screen
  • i like ur undies
  • agreed
  • american media
  • it would be funny to see you jump on one foot
  • are you censoring the messages
  • yellow power
  • saudi power
  • there are only three minorities in the room

I personally feel like s sponge and I’m taking everything in. Kind of like the performer, who is getting his cues from the audience. I just asked someone about and she told me his name is Myk Henry.

I was also told earlier that there are more performers tonight than originally expected.

Someone just texted (and he wrote), “Take a shit on the pedestal.” Has this performance jumped the shark or is the audience getting restless? I think that latter since more people are sitting down on the floor. I’ve also noticed everyone has a Bud beer can in their hand. I, on the other hand, am thankful I had a big decaf latte before this all started to sober me up — it worked.

10:12 pm

Jill (of Grace Exhibition Space) just told me that she wishes I was here yesterday so that I could’ve blogged “a woman is taking cheeries out of her vagina.” I wish so too.

Performance artist Holly Faurot just saw me type that last line and we’re giggling together.

Ok, performance is over.

10:16 pm

Speaking to Curtis who just came from a painting show by Becky Kinder & Bill Abbot in Red Hook. He mentioned that he likes hearing me type. He liked the last show because he was acting as a conduit. He liked how it felt like a form of mind reading, since he could see what others were thinking/writing. He also noticed how shoulder to shoulder everyone is standing in the space. He, like me, is enjoying eavesdropping.

The last performer is being grilled now by people as to whether he censored what he was being SMS’d.

Curtis just left to cruise around the room and he said, “Thanks for doing what you’re doing.” That was nice of him.

The room has really filled up.

10:25 pm

They are setting up the next performance, which looks like it’s going to be a form of Chinese water torture.

Maximum Perception VII

He’s staring at the ceiling at the bag of water and now playing with the puddle with his feet.

This is proving a tough performance to document. The movement is rather banal and minimal. He’s spreading the water into an ever widening circle.

Maximum Perception VIII

People are really getting restless now. Performance is done and people seemed to be caught by surprise.

Just ran into artist Evan Ryer, he’s moving into a new place at the end of this month in the neighborhood.

10:39 pm

This whole event is becoming a little confusing. I don’t know what to expect next but I hear it’s in the next room … I better run.

10:43 pm

Just spoke to Myk about his performance. He said he did the same thing in Miami last week and he said it provoked a more cutesy response while here it was edgier. I suggested it was even a little angry or aggressive and he agreed.

10:47 pm

A woman is coming out of a column of car tires. She surprised us. We didn’t know she was inside.

There’s a little too much talking around. It is becoming distracting.

She collapsed on the tires, as if from exhaustion. She is moving again. She seems to be crawling out of the column of tires. Someone’s really irritating cellphone ring went off.

Maximum Perception IX

She did the last part much faster and ended her performance with a thank you. It was surprisingly a sweet performance.

10:56 pm

I just rushed into the next room worried that I was missing the next performance and, of course, I’m one of the only ones here. For some reason my ears just started ringing, I wonder if it is because there is a shit load of electronics in this room. The title of Lyra’s post a few days back on this blogazine was spot on … it’s all about hyperdocumentation.

Now there is a guy in front of me slapping himself in the head and a woman taking his picture while he’s doing that.

Now they’re giggling. I’m laughing inside.

11:04 pm

I’m speaking to someone who asked me to email her Hyperallergic’s URL so that she can check out what I’m doing. There’s a lot of people asking about the site tonight.

11:11 pm

The next performance is about the start and it is being cued by organ music. I appreciate that they handed out some descriptions and I know that this performance is called “Walk better than sidong” by Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow & Zachary Fabri.

A man is trying to slide across the concrete & wood floor using a snow sled. He looks like he’s partly hurting himself but he is able to slide. It’s actually a very powerful metaphor and he is obviously in deep concentration. The audience is really getting into this … or at least I am.

Maximum Perception X

Now a woman has emerged in a gray business suit and she has put on the scarf the man had on earlier. She looks confident and like a professional.

She leaves and a basketball is thrown into the room. Soon the man emerges dressed as a basketball player. He is bouncing the ball with a lot of intensity, just like he did when he was sledding.

Maximum Perception XI

He is hurling the ball at the wall above our heads and I feel like it may hit us but it doesn’t. He’s now psyching us out like he’s going to kick the basketball into the audience. People are getting uncomfortable and giggling again.

The woman reemerged. She looked busy and a little frustrated. She walked back and forth and now she’s left. We are hearing a whistle from offstage and then the man reenters dressed as a janitor with a bucket and mop. Then he goes in and comes out wearing yellow rubber gloves.

People are watching intently and they are silent. My typing feels very loud, it’s the first time I’m having this thought tonight.

The woman enters again with a more relaxed and sophisticated air. She is dressed in a winter parka.

She comes out again drunk with a beer bottle and she pukes, crushes the beer bottle (I was afraid she severely hurt her hand) and then leaves after stumbling she leaves the stage.

The man enters and cleans the mess. He sweeps it up, dips his finger in the mix of vomit and beer and then touches his tongue with his finger. He continues cleaning. It feels like comic relief at this point. Gone is the anger and intensity of his earlier characters and there is a new emotional performance here … maybe concern combined with a sense of the absurd? He keeps smelling the floor. He sees her “glass slipper” and starts playing with it until eventually he slips it on and walks away. He spots the woman’s purse and acts like he’s being casual and not obvious when he’s picking it up.

Woman enters dressed as a runner and keeps running and forth in the room diagonally.

Maximum Perception XII

There is a pause. We hear music far off and there is a great deal of anticipation in the room. He walks in with a boom box and moves as if in slow motion. His pants are low and he underwear is visible. He loves like a Rastafarian Sisyphus enduring some impossible task. He stopped in the center of the room and he looked like Atlas carrying the world on this back. She comes out (this time while he’s still on stage) and is dressed as a roller bladder. She is somewhat clumsy.

Maximum Perception XIII

After she leaves things are thrown on stage (clothes, shoes). He inadvertently hits a cameraman with something.

They come out in their underwear but it seems obvious she has really cut her hand and its bleeding badly. I’m kind of concerned to be honest.

Maximum Perception XIV

He now started to semi-vomit on the stage. This performance is the most intense thing of the night. She now tastes his vomit and then eats a whole bunch without using her hands. As people are applauding she picks up the rest of the vomit and puts it in his mouth.

I feel exhausted. That was so friggin’ intense.

11:57 pm

A performance band is in the other room. A simple beat permeates the room. Ok, they started playing and it’s really really loud. At least no one will notice by typing.

Maximum Perception XV

This is more of a concert than anything. Music is good … very north Brooklyn though I’m not sure they are from around here (interpret that as you will).

12:03 am

Liveblogging is proving to be an endurance event. I can’t wait to relax after this. Between photographing, typing, listening, absorbing and all the rest I feel exhausted.

12:08 am

There is no mike stand so some guy is acting like one and holding the microphone (while crouching down) for the singer. The musicians are obviously having a good time. It’s fun to watch and a nice thing to experience after the previous performance of all out intensity.

Maximum Perception XVI

It’s funny to see people around who look a little drunk while I’m stone cold sober. I’ll definitely need a drink and a lot of quiet after this performance marathon. I do love that there are people walking around carrying whole bottles of red wine. A little bizarre but funny. Mini-concert is done.

12:20 am

I’m moved to the other room to discovered a whole lot of stuff filling the room, including turquoise tape on the floor which sections off the performance area (I assume). I’m rather peeved that Twitter isn’t working (neither is Facebook) from where I am … does that make me a dork?

12:25 am

I just met the woman who is doing the continuing performance throughout the night “The Quote Generator” by Daniele Freakley. She caught me off-guard.

The next performance is beginning.

Maximum Perception XVII

Two women (Holly Farout + Sarah H. Paulson) are seated and lying down … now one is standing. Two men are playing instruments in the back and another man is handling & peeling what looks like white yams or some other strange root vegetable.

This performance feels atmospheric and relaxing, like a fog passing by a field.

Ok, I just got a heads up that this performance is going to last two hours and another performance will be going on during this one. Now I know why it was feeling atmospheric.

Ok, I’ve had to leave the room to find outlets to recharge my dying computer & iPhone batteries.

12:43 am

Sitting with curator Peter Dobill now and asking him how it’s going. He said that lots of people wouldn’t tell him what they were performing before they started. He’s really happy with the way things are going and all the surprises were good ones.

I asked him how this year was different from last year. He said that the restrictions he gave the performers has been interesting to see and condensing it to two days has a good idea so that it distilled all of them (my words, not his).

1:09 am

The rock ‘n roll action painter is about to start. He’s dousing the area with what looks like water.

Maximum Perception XVIII

He is painting a face, then doused it with red paint and then body checked the canvas. Now out comes the green and some dusty substance that from here smells like chalk (he is also using glitter).

Maximum Perception XIX

He set part of the work on fire and then scrubbed it intensely and now he is playing an electric guitar … yes, it is random but still. Here comes the white and more glitter! Now pink and he has now stabbed the canvas. It is getting hard to breathe in here — too much stuff in the air.

He dumped water (or something) on his head and used himself as a brush. And it’s over.

1:24 am

Ok, I think I’m done for the night even though the Farout + Paulson performance will be going on for another hour. This has been an endurance activity for me.

I’m feeling like this has been a successful experiment. More thoughts tomorrow.

2:31 pm

Maximum Perception XX

I should mention that while I was wrapping up the Farout + Paulson performance concluded. Here are some images from the last few minutes of that work.

Maximum Perception XXI

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

7 replies on “Liveblogging “Maximum Perception” at English Kills”

  1. I just read this in April 2010. You did a phenomenal, dedicated job of relaying the experience of this event. I got just as alternately psyched and tired as if I’d been there . . . going to lie down now. 🙂

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