Last night proved to be more of an endurance event (six and a half hours) than I had originally bargained for, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t very worthwhile and fascinating for me as a critic and blogger.
Going into the event my biggest concern was that my reactions would be incoherent and fragmented (which they were somewhat) but what resulted was a post that careened through the event and captured some of the energy of a performance evening that was nonlinear and overwhelming.
The performances ranged from the whimsical [Nate Hill’s “Free Bouncy Rides” (2009)] to the emotionally intense [Jodie Lun Kee Chow and Zachary Fabri, “Walk better than sidong” (2009)]. Some elicited aggression from the audience, like Myk Henry’s “White Power” (2009), which asked the audience to SMS him what he should include in the performance and read aloud, while others were soothing and atmospheric, the best example is Holly Farout + Sarah H. Paulson’s “Untitled” (2009) though Ryan Brown’s “Untitled” (2009) also qualifies.
Unlike the events at Performa I attended, Maximum Perception felt less theatrical but that may have been more impacted by the space than the performances. My iPhone and the Autostitch app proved invaluable and allowed me to easily collage photos in a “live and on the scene” manner that also integrated time in a way traditional photography could not have done. These time lapse panorama’s may in fact be the most accurate record of the experience I produced and you can see them all here.
When I spoke to one of the evening’s curators, Peter Dobill, he admitted that while he’d love to be able to take credit for the strong pacing of performances (a good mix of musical works and austere pieces) the result was partially due to chance — many of the performers wouldn’t be specific before hand about what their performances would be.
There was a palpable energy in the room and that didn’t dissipate and as the evening progressed the audience was lulled into what seemed like a deep trance (the beer probably helped).
The next day I still have a few of the performances on my mind, particularly Chow and Fabri’s densely packed piece. Their work engaged me in a way that made blogging it difficult. The audience during this work was quiet and attentive. There was a tension that made me believe anything could happen. When Fabri began to hurl a basketball at the walls until it was destroyed, the room seemed to shake and I felt alert and curious. When the female performer cut her hand as she shattered a beer bottle on the floor of the gallery, I was shocked and concerned. If these moments were momentary “kicks in the head,” the piece as a whole came together in a small narrative about relationships that was far from cliche and anything but straightforward. It was fresh, powerful and provocative. Someone told me that I kept using the word intense while I blogged last night for this piece, but that intensity didn’t come through very well, which I understand since I guess liveblogging has its limitations.
The following are photos taken with my digital SLR from last night. They reveal more nuanced colors than my iPhone could possibly produce. If you’d like to see all 97 high-resolution photographs I shot last night here is a slideshow.