We’re setting up at the English Kills Art Gallery and getting ready for the Friday night liveblogging session.

Tonight, Hyperallergic’s Kyle Chayka and I will be manning the blog, Twitter & everything else and taking turns chiming in about performances and what’s going on around us.

The Twitter hashtag for tonight’s event is #maxperception and you can follow our Twitterfeed here: twitter.com/hyperallergic.

The staff at Maximum Perception is being awesome so far and they had white wine and San Pelegrino waiting for us … can you say wine spritzer?!?! Atleast if we start slurring our typing you’ll know why 😉 They also have a “press area” for us … so things are definitely more professional than last year when it was me, my Mac Air, & my smartphone. We’re moving on up people!


We’ve chatting with performance artists Nate Hill (decked out in his characteristic mailman uniform) and Man Bartlett, who will be performing tonight.

The full performance list for tonight is:

  • Joe Nanashe, “Grindcore”
  • Anya Liftig, “243 Eggs: 20 Years of My Period”
  • Hiroshi Shafer with Nijah Cunningham, “If You’re Happy, Then I’m Confused”
  • Zhenesse Staniec Heinemann, “Oralia , Shipment #2838 (Decrate January 14th, 2011)”
  • Akiko Ichikawa and Friends, “Alison Knowles’s Event Score No. 3”
  • Man Bartlett, “#HamSkull”
  • AABier, “It’s Personal”


People are still gathering so we think festivities will start in the next few minutes … my guess is 7:40-ish.


7:32pm — Joe Nanashe, “Grindcore”

They just handed out ear plugs and Nanache is sanding down a microphone against a backdrop of some echoing video imagery.

Also, we just had our first wine casualty tonight. The box of ear plugs knocked over Kyle’s glass.


Nanashe is now sanding the video camera lens (I’m guessing it’s the lens) and the room is filled with an awful metallic smell. I can almost taste it in my mouth.


And it’s over. A cameraman on a tripod obstructed my view a bit … taking care of that now.


Prep for the next piece is underway. Ladders, lights, people standing around. Now there’s a spotlight on us. Aside: white wine is better than most gallery openings and I’m glad we’ve just scored a big stash of ear plugs … we’re set to go to black metal concerts with Heart as Arena now.


Just spoke to attendee into Tom, who just moved to New York from New Mexico (originally from California), who joked that instead of liveblogging, next time we should blog this before it happens. Now THAT would be revolutionary in the world of art news/criticism … writing that proceeds the art.

Nate Hill just tried to hijack our twitterfeed and he couldn’t even get a tweet out. Just goes to prove that people think tweeting is easy. It isn’t. Bloggers are trained professionals.


Lots of chatting between performances. Topic of discussion is the #Rank discussion at Winkleman two weeks ago (Dec. 30). Seems that people are reflecting on how some people showed up to that night with lots of negative energy and some people wanted to have something more cathartic and positive.

One opinion: some people are super naive about art.
Another opinion: we should learn from what happened and try the discussion again.
Rumors are that there will be another discussion in another locale.

7:32pm — Anya Liftig “243 Eggs: 20 Years of My Period”

The next performance is getting set up with black-clad assistants in boob hats. Pictures coming. Artist Anya Liftig is doing ballet in a pink outfit with a giant breast costume for her “243 Eggs: 20 Years of My Period”.


Anya’s assistants have started to throw eggs at her with abandon, while a third assistant shouts the names of years through a tin megaphone. The thuds the eggs make when they hit Anya’s body are audible and kind of disturbing.


Anya’s breast costume has fallen off but she continues to be hit with the eggs. She’s started to breathe hard and is not having an easy time with the eggs. A plastic tarp covers the wall and the ground but the eggs are kind of getting everywhere anyway. There are some giggles from the audience but it’s definitely a little harrowing.

Here’s a picture, shot around halfway through the performance:

Anya Liftig’s “243 Eggs: 20 years of My Period”


The performance is over and the house music is back on. Anya exited stage right and the plastic tarp is covered with egg shells and yolk.


Will Brand from the internet says that the performance festival is like, “durational/relational aesthetics”, but he hasn’t actually seen any performances.

Here are some comments from Maximum Perception viewers on Anya’s performance.


YouTube video


Just spotted woman in a blue diaper walking by … boy this is going to be interesting.


Lots of downtime, Kyle & Nate just went to the bathroom together. We just scored the whole bottle of Chardonnay for the “press area” and we’ve become a performance of our own with a crowd of people gathered around us … dammit people, out of my way, I’m friggin’ working! People don’t understand the focus required for blogging. Wait, Kyle just came back and he looks SUPER focused.


Looks like the next performance is starting soon. There’s a banner with crepe paper streamers attached to it moving onto the stage.


I am enjoying our blogger Yellowtail wine. The bottle fills up when we get retweeted. Internet magic.


The downtime at this festival is quite a bit this year. The room is definitely filling up. Some people arrived post-Williamsburg Every 2nd Friday, others just starting their night. Tons of English Kills & Bushwick artists, including Joy Curtis, Mike Olin, Andrew Ohanesian, Tescia Sufferlein, Outpost’s Ruth Kahn, and others.

9:20pm — Hiroshi Shafer w/ Nijah Cunningham “If You’re Happy, Then I’m Confused”

Hiroshi Shafer is shy. Nijah Cunningham forgot how to be excited. Hiroshi always needs a prop, or something, to speak in public, but this time he’s just going for it anyway. Nijah tied his hand to Hiroshi’s. The performers are bringing people on stage and cheesy jazz music is playing. Pretty awesome, sweet and funny.


Nijah offers Hiroshi a cigarette. The audience members onstage get cards, write something on them, and a stationary figure on the stage… takes the cards and puts them under her skirt. Awesomely cheesy jazz continues.


Now the audience is dancing around the stationary figure on the stage. I can’t see much cause the crowd is so thick. Thankfully Hrag is up front reporting, and has some pictures for us. See below! Also my friends just showed up and got sucked onto the stage and into the performance, so thanks Nora and Panama.

Audience members are weaving in and out of the circle around the central woman, in the yellow skirt above. They seem to be taking their cards or something? Still can’t really tell.


Someone reads a card and says something about looking around. The woman in the center lifted her skirt at some point. “Traveling around makes me excited,” reads my friend Nora. “Ideas music and sex make me most excited…” reads another audience member. “If You’re Happy And You Know It…” is playing. It’s hilarious. “The smell of firewood makes me most excited.” I think the cards have what make people most excited, don’t you? I think snap peas make someone excited though I may have heard wrong.


The woman in the center screams, Hiroshi says thank you in Japanese, and the performance is over. Sweet.


Here’s a last photo from Hrag. Will Brand says it was “fun”.


Reactions from artists Joy Curtis & Mike Olin, both of whom were picked from the audience to participate in the performance. Btw, woman wearing a diaper from last performance is walking around asking people if they want a diaper. Yum. The woman with the diaper is named Fauziya Sani and she just stopped by thinking I was the owner of the space.

YouTube video


The strangest thing about the last performance was that I asked a number of people to give me reactions and they refused. Not sure why. One said, “I don’t want to comment.” Another said they needed a minute.

Nate Hill just pointed out a woman in the audience he’s seen pee on a deer … WTF!?!?

Next performance is in the other room.

10:00pm — Zhenesse Staniec Heinemann “Oralia Shipment #2838 (Decrate january 14th 2011)

So this performance is starting and it’s in the other room from the other performances. Zhenesse is in a large plywood box and seems to be eating tissue paper. The crowd is so dense that I can’t see much, but Hrag is up front taking pictures, seen below.

The signs above the artist seem to be changing, but they all seem to have something to do with the body.


Artist Nate Hill says “Zhenesse is putting salt and pepper on tissue paper and swallowing it, then poured a cup of sugar in her mouth, then she ran in place in a dress and heels for about 5 minutes. He thinks it’s about the female body and body image stuff.” The crowd is standing room only.


Apparently there are needle injections. The doors of the wooden cabinet closed. Maybe it’s over. Here is some video footage of the performance:

YouTube video


Here are some crowd reactions to Zhenesse’s piece, shot by Hrag from the front lines with Arika Peachy:

YouTube video


Just found out from Zhenesse that the hypodermic she used during her performance and she injected into her checks was filled with sterile saline. She explained it was supposed to be “filler.”

That last performance was the most visceral for me so far. The hypodermic pushed it to the next level. I really did look away and try to get lost in the process of taking video and images.


We’re currently waiting for the next performance, Akiko Ichikawa and Friends’ “Alison Knowles’s Event Score No. 3”. People are hanging out. And updating their iPhones.


There are amplifier buzzes which seem to signal the next performance. There’s a dude soaping up his hands. And now a girl is soaping up her hands with the dude. Or is it paint? I think it’s some kind of moisturizing gel. There are four people now.


There are 6 people moisturizing their hands. Hiroshi from the previous performance is filming. One member of the hand moisturizing group leaves. Another leaves. And another.


The guy with the lotion on his hands made me wonder if there was going to be some extreme fisting or something. Someone else obviously thought that too and then turned to a friend and said, “Maybe I watch too much South Park.” As more people joined the performance it become more soothing and the energy in the room changed to be more focused and there was less talking during this performance than any of the others, even though there are more people now than before.

A photo from the beginning of Akiko’s performance:

Next up, we’re all pumped for the beginning of Man Bartlett’s performance.


BTW, Alison Knowles is “one of the founding members of Fluxus”, according to Wikipedia.


Here are some crowd reactions to Akiko’s performance:

YouTube video

11:20pm — Man Bartlett’s “#ManSkull”

Man Bartlett is listening to Miles Davis and Barack Obama’s most recent speech, eating a Hungry Man meal, and wondering what we all had for dinner. He is solemnly eating the pre-frozen meal and reading tweets of what people had for dinner.


We’re all trying to find the next moment, stay in the current moment, says Man. I’m groovin’ to the jazz on the speakers.


What happens when we shut all thoughts of consumption out of our minds? Here are some photos from Man’s performance.

One of the most unusual things about the performance was not actually a planned part of the work. A gentleman — Tom who stopped by our table at the beginning of the night — blind folded himself when Bartlett asked us all to close our eyes. It seemed drastic but we caught up with him post-performance to ask what that was about. The video is currently uploading and will be posted soon.


Here’s the video of Tom’s reaction to Bartlett’s “#HamSkull.”

YouTube video


AABier’s “It’s Personal” is starting, people are clapping. Some performers are in gold suits. Total American Apparel shit. Clapping is getting softer.


The performers are dragging a plastic bag of plaster bones onto the stage. Hmmm. The gold performers are pulling apart the plastic bag of bones. Now they’re hitting and stabbing the thing with golden knives. So far melodramatic.


The Biers sisters are connected in their golden costume. They’re carving a female figure out of the pile of bones. Can’t say I feel anything yet. The girls are carving more female figures out of their pile. People are laughing, not really sure about the whole thing. Lots of ripping sounds. No meaningful symbols.


The girls continue to rip human bodies out of their mass of white tape. The bodies are being passed around the crowd, one went crowd-surfing. Lots of giggling ensued. I don’t know if this is funny or serious. The gold costumes are pretty over the top. Here are some pictures from Hrag:

The Beirs lead another round of clapping, walk around drawing eyes, mouths and other markings on their tape figures.


The Biers start stabbing and carving up the white tape figures they rescued from the audience. Still can’t say I know what’s going on, but hey. The insides of the white tape figures are made up of newsprint; the newsprint is flying as the duo continues to stab two prone figures.


Here’s a photo of the performers starting to totally eviscerate their tape dummies from Hrag:


The sisters are still massacring the tape bodies to little added affect. It’s been going on for a while and I’m stretched to the limits of caring. It’s like an American Apparel ad plus violence porn. Now people are clapping. The performers are also clapping, in syncopation.


Here are some pics and a gif!!! of the aftermath of the Beirs’ destruction:


The Biers’ performance is over. Everything is over. That concludes the liveblogging of performances from Maximum Perception at English Kills gallery.


The performances at English Kill’s Maximum Perception were characterized by an engagement with endurance tactics: each of the performances had to last a certain duration to make an impact. Where the Biers’ performance gained its power from its continued violence, Man Bartlett’s performance gained its strength from its attraction and repulsion of the viewer; both held the viewer in flux, constantly aware of where the stood in relation to the performance. After the whole event is over, we’re left with a pile of newsprint and broken tape bodies from the Biers sisters. In many ways this is what characterized the entire event: a spectacle that also made you think while spectating. That concludes my (Kyle’s) coverage of English Kill’s Maximum Perception performance fest.

And just so you know, tomorrow night the event continues. Hrag and Daniel Larkin will be covering January 16th’s performance events with the same commitment and alacrity that we have been tonight. Look forward to it!

For a final note, check out a final video of the Biers sisters’ “It’s Personal”, the end to the January 14th edition of Maximum Perception at English Kills gallery.

YouTube video

And for all your blog spectators out there, here’s a shot of us finishing up Maximum Perception coverage, because we don’t work entirely in the dark. See me (Kyle) at right.

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

2 replies on “Liveblogging Maximum Perception, Fri Night”

  1. hashahasa! banana banana. i thought that was great. after Bru Jø GLDN $ecurity, “GLDN Shower w/ Bru Jø & Yassy Goldie” i had to leave, i can’t believe how much i missed. so fucking cool all this diversity while all and each being so wonderfully intense and expressive. so much to experience and process i felt about each one. it must have been hard to liveblog. i feel like i’m still digesting. but i was absolutely changed. I took away a lot of different things than what you wrote about, but it was great to re-live them again, knowing it’s through someone else’s eyes. even the pieces i missed; at least i can imagine them. that Rob Andrews piece sounds crazy. and i love the videos! thanks for the blog. and it was great to meet you last night Hrag. i’m gonna look up who these performers are. maximum perception blew my mind

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