Tonight, Daniel Larkin and I will be liveblogging night two of the Maximum Perception Performance Festival at the English Kills Art Gallery in Brooklyn.
Last night’s liveblog can be found here and tonight we’re going to be trying some new things as we go along. Each night is a new experiment and we’re going to try to have as much fun as we can while recording what we see, hear …
The Twitter hashtag for tonight’s event is #maxperception and you can follow our Twitterfeed here: twitter.com/hyperallergic.
People have started arriving and Daniel noticed a few people stashing Trader Joe’s bags in a backroom. Wonder what that’s about.
Tonight’s schedule is as follows (chronologically):
- Dirk Adams, “Target Audience”
- Sindy Butz, “Zero”
- Orion Maxted, “Banana”
- Bru Jø GLDN $ecurity, “GLDN Shower w/ Bru Jø & Yassy Goldie”
- Rafael Sanchez, “Algiers Point Spectacle Number One”
- Faith Johnson, “The Alchemy of Moving Through”
- Alice Volger, “Rebuilt Involuntary Vision”
- Rob Andrews, “Blood Draw”
- Holly Farout + Sarah H. Paulson with Katurah Hutcheson, “Thank god for the one who pushed ‘I hope I wait for the hug'”
And people are still walking in.
Conversation before hand with Chris Harding, Daniel Larkin and Akiko Ichikawa as they are talking about Katy Perry loving the number 11. Where the hell am I?
Performers still arriving — guessing things will start at 7:40-ish — and there’s a bird cage arriving and Akiko & Daniel are starting to chat about Berlin and how liberal Americans romanticize the city. Having not been there, I have no comment.
Btw, Daniel is soo loud right now I don’t know if he knows he’s NOT performing. #WTF
Jazz is softly playing in the background. A few people are quietly chatting. It’s the calm before the storm. A man dressed all in white — Nate Hill — is munching on a wrap.
Daniel just admitted he’s very excited — too excited? — about Bru Jø’s GLDN Shower. He’s asking everyone what it’s about.
It feels like they’re starting slow today, maybe we’ll start around 8? I really have no idea. Considering there are more performers than last night I’m guessing this is going to end around 1 or 2am, but it’s anyone’s guess. Today, we’re doing white wine spritzers cuz we’re classy.
7:53pm — Dirk Adams, “Target Audience”
The space is starting to fill up. A hush just came over the crowd. The show is starting …
A soundtrack is playing bumping and thump noises. Sounds almost like someone is hammering. Dirk begins to unpack a white plastic briefcase. He reveals a bunch of tools.
Dirk set out two cans of Moxie soda. He is waiving around a wooden stick. It’s making a funky sound.
Dirk just put on a Proud to American T-shirt. But he is now cutting it with a box cutter. (Is this a 9/11 reference?)
He has now ripped out the flag and statue of liberty section on the t-shirt. He draws a circle on a white board. He calls it “the universe.” He draws an arrow and is talking about objects leaving the universe. He drinks more Moxie soda.
Dirk says he is not going to explain language but then does. He puts on an orange cap. He explains that Moxie soda is from Maine but tastes nasty. He puts on a pair of white sunglasses and starts talking about the meaning of the word moxie.
He’s back to talking about the object that left the universe at the white board. You can see the word audience peering through the hole in his shirt. So the shirt reads “Proud to be — Audience — American”
Adams seems to be creating a contraption of some sort. It feels like some kind of high school science experiment. His energy is calm but when he said earlier that we don’t know what he’s going to do, I did get a little concerned that we would see blood or some sort of cutting. He’s rigged up some string from an illustrations from “the universe” he drew earlier on the board to the Moxie sodas on the floor. The incessant pounding in the background makes it feel like some type of project where something is being constructed or created.
Adams just took off the shredded Proud to be American shirt. And then reversed the “audience” t-shirt, showing a target image on his front chest.
Adams just wrote XQ SEZ on the white board. A guy from the audience starting chanting excuses, excuses, excuses.
He is now behind the white board. His feet on are on top of the board. The music has shifted to some chanting voices that sound like raindrops. He knocks it over and it’s over.
Some audience reaction by Jill McDermid, founder of Grace Exhibition Space, the premier performance art venue in Bushwick:
Zhenesse Staniec Heinemann just came by and told Arika that she appreciated her interpretation of her performance and that I may have been reductionist in my leading questions regarding the performance. That’s fair but I disagree.
8:43pm — Sindy Butz, “Zero”
The room just got dark and there are body bag like things on the floor and other props. A woman in a black dress with a bouquet of red roses walks in. A sound track with birds chirping in the background plays. Her face is painted white. She closes her eyes, stands still, but her mouth moves. She seems to be in a trance (not sure)
This reminds me of Butoh dance theater. I remember seeing the originator of Butoh, Kazuo Ono, perform once years ago (mid-1990s) and there are shades of that here.
Whereas the last piece was more playful and the audience was often caught smirking, this performance’s energy is softer and its pace is slower. People are watching more calmly. Our eyes are glued on her every motion. She’s not very predictable. Now she is playing with a black sack while balancing the roses on her arm. The sack appears to be leaking out grains of sand.
The sand now is pouring out freely from the sack. She has created a half circle around herself. She begins to eat the rose blossoms and some of their petals fall to the floor.
There’s an overwhelming sense of loss in the performance. She is eating the roses as she slowly circles the front of the stage. Hunched over she is spitting out petals and she looks frail and crying. There are no tears, only gestures suggesting she is weak. The music has changed to be more festive and theatrical but her motions haven’t changed.
She is spitting many of the rose petals into a small circle of what look likes black ivy leaves. The rose bouquet has taken a real beating by this point. When she spits out the rose petals, they can sometimes look like blood dripping from her mouth.
The way she was biting and chewing the roses reminded me of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son.” It was repulsive and intimate.
The music changes to a triumphant classical score. She alternates between panting, expressions of pain, and closing her eyes and smiling. The music stops and she falls to the floor. The audience applauds.
Just forced Jason Andrews of Norte Maar & Storefront gallery to give us a reaction to Butz’s performance:
9:26pm — Orion Maxted, “Banana”
More people are in the space now. They have formed a circle around the entire room.
Orion pulls out a banana and begins to chant “banana” as he shows it to members of the audience. He climbs up on a ladder and says it again. He starts to take bananas from a big cardboard box and forms a pile of bananas in the space.
He begins to pull other items out of the box — a lemon, a yellow rubber ducky, a yellow towel, a yellow booklet, a yellow tape measure, a yellow suitecase — but he keeps calling them all banana. My “dada-dar” [aka dada radar] is bleeping pretty loud.
He is now pulling out objects from the box that aren’t yellow. Oranges, campy nativity scene pieces, chili electric lights. He then pulls things from the audience. A lady’s orange umbrella, this blog’s publisher, other members of the audience. He keeps labeling each object as a banana.
As more and more audience members get pulled in, they are asked to hold various objects. Giggles start to roll through the audience. The scene is becoming packed. Banana appears to be the only word he can mutter.
Your bloggers are forced into the center of the scene. Everyone begins to scream banana. It’s a cacophony. Now people are just screaming. Someone’s ears hurt. A big bench gets moved and the grating sounds unpleasant. A woman tries to say orange but gets a corrective banana from the performer.
More and more stuff is getting moved into the center. But surrounded by people on all sides it’s hard to tell what is going one. It feels claustrophobic. Now everyone is chanting AHHHH together. Someone throws a purse at your blogger. People begin to harmonize (badly).
A girl starts to crawl through the scene. The AHHH thing stops. The banana refrain is back. A stinky sweater gets tossed near this blogger. The performer is now running around the crowd. Everyone and everything is in the center of the room. He is now just making inaudible noises. The crowd starts to cheer. The piece is done.
There is a break. Jason Andrew just admitted he is allergic to bananas. Also, we got this reaction from Animal New York’s Marina Galperina about “Banana”:
9:59pm— Bru Jø GLDN $ecurity, “GLDN Shower w/ Bru Jø & Yassy Goldie”
It looks like it’s going to get wet in here.
A man comes in all clad in black with a black and gold briefcase. The space is dim — illuminated by a single light. He begins to play Latin music from a device that looks like a walkie talkie. He is barefoot.
He moves the briefcase out of the center of the room. He places a silver metallic table into the center of the room. Next, he places a Buddha statue on the table. The dim light and bright red ceiling make it feel post-industrial. The Buddha’s head is covered with a black hood.
He starts to pull out an old school tape recorder out of his briefcase and he asks for electricity. A long monologue plays from the tape recorder.
He begins to pour what appears to be Japanese snack food around the Buddha statue. The monologue peddles conspiracy theories, spiritual mumbo jumbo. Laughter breaks out in the crowd from time to time.
Buddha now holds a golden Yoda head. Someone in the audience mutters, “Wow the two wisest people on earth.”
The man walks around the Buddha in a circle. The tape recorder continues its rant. Now there is discussion about diet. He advises that you can drink as much diet coke as you want and that it is liquid gold or light or something. Keeps talking about how awesome gold is. It’s hard to believe he is so enlightened when he keeps going back to gold. There’s a dicotyledon there.
I’m rather surprised that soo many performances during Maximum Perception have been using soundtracks to drive the narrative of their performances. The performances often seem trapped within the narrative, and in the case of Bru Jø GLDN $ecurity’s performance the performer seems to be trying to break (or breakthrough?) something.
He pours wine onto the Buddha’s hood. He then strikes a match and lights the hood on fire. The hood catches on fire and eventually, so does the yoda head. The Buddha’s face is eventually reveled as the flames destroy the hood. The man extinguishes the flames with gold paint.
He then wraps the Buddha in a black body bag, throw it on the floor and beats the Buddha into a pulp.
There is a chemical smell in the room. The whole thing feels like a video produced by some 1970s rebel group. There is a sense that the man in black is brainwashed or maybe caught up in some sort of frenzy. The sound is less decipherable than before. The gold objects don’t feel precious as much as alchemical. What will he create with them?
He places a golden flower pot on the metal table. He pours the broken shards from the statue into the bottom of the pot. He then heaps in a bunch of dirt and finally plants a cactus. The soundtrack has degenerated into inaudible static and moaning. He starts brandishing a machete. He turns off the tape recorder and turns the walkie talkie. The latin radio resumes radio is now playing some type of hip hop or rap, it’s very low volume and hard to tell. He packs up his briefcase and leaves the stage.
The lights come back up and there is a break.
We can’t believe we’re not even halfway through tonight’s program. We’ve gone through a lot and there’s still a way to go. Exhausted.
Jason Andrew just came by the table and said, “I’m got to leave. There are only so many worlds I can get trapped in. In that last one, I was in a basement, I was tied up … ” Bushwick-area reporter and personality Aaron Short just stopped by our table and told us that he’s very surprised by the total lack of nudity in the performances this week. We’re not sure if he’s happy or not.
There’s a change of program. We just found out Rob Andrews is next. We hear there’s blood in the next one.
11:08pm — Rob Andrews “Blood Draw”
A almost entirely naked man is laying in the center of the room. Only a loin cloth covers him. He is wrapped up in green chains. He wears a blue bull head mask — he is a minotaur. A woman in a campy pink nurses outfit is extracting blood from him. It looks like a German christ laying dead scene from an art history seminar. The crowd is hushed and quiet.
For the past ten minutes, a man whose face is covered in gold has been rhapsodizing about the dangers of doubt, how we can get caught up negative thinking, etc.
The man begins to auction off the Minotaur’s blood. Bidding starts at 50 bucks. Someone in the crowd wings the Minotaur.
The Minotaur begins to try and struggle free and is now weeping, or so we suppose.
The audience seems confused as to what to do and when the performance ends. People are making jokes.
Daniel went wandering into the scene and tried to free the minotaur because he felt bad. I think he definitely transgressed the reporter/critic role on this one but then again, who the hell knows the rules anymore.
We’re still debating if Daniel should’ve walked onto the “stage” and tried to free the minotaur. Daniel says it was an ethical moment. I guess having seen so many of Andrews’s performances I felt less of a need to do anything. Daniel felt like he was being passive and possibly complicit. I think we’re going to be debating this for a while.
I wonder what Rob Andrews will be saying about it.
Also, Kyle Chayka has joined us at the table and he was just approached by AABier, performers from last night, and they were wondering why he wrote what he wrote last night. Blogging two nights in a row has made the experience more difficult considering the performers have been directly confronting us about what we’re doing. The performers are taking our words very personally. I guess they don’t feel the same as we do about the performance.
11:49pm -Rafael Sanchez, “Algiers Point Spectacle Number One
A man in a black Speedo gets on to the stage. He brings a storm trooper helmet with a surface that looks like a disco ball. Trance-y music plays (might even be Sissy Bounce). He puts on pantie hoes. He swings around and dances like a stripper. He puts on a gold leotard. He puts on rainbow tight shorts. He puts on lipstick. (It’s getting pretty fabulous.)
He puts on pink swimming goggles. He’s continuing to dance (is it gogo dancing?) around the room.
It’s pretty freaky that some guy in a hoodie is shooting at him with a toy handgun as he dances and gyrates his booty. Holy shit, he’s bleeding. WTF?!? Where is the blood coming from?
He doesn’t ever react to the “bullets” being shot at him — he just keeps going.
The title of the piece makes me think that it’s about New Orleans or maybe post-Katrina. Algiers Point is cross river from NOLA and many African Americans escaping Hurricane Katrina were shot by the mostly white residents of Algiers Point when they ended up there. It was one of the darkest and most disturbing episodes of the post-Katrina aftermath.
He was “died” and the man came and took his disco ball helmet away.
We’re debating now — after being confronted by a few artists — what artists are expecting from our liveblogging. I think some artists often look for PR when they hear criticism, not realizing that it isn’t always positive and subjective isn’t a bad thing when it is in the moment and helps document how the ideas and experience of the performance evolves for the viewer. Daniel is bringing up Descartes, but it’s too late for that right now. As critics I think it’s important to admit our experiences evolve. Sometimes our initial negative responses become positive and vice versa.
12:18pm — Faith Johnson, “The Alchemy of Moving Through”
This looks like it will be the first one to be technically on the “stage.” A young woman stands on the stage still.
We had our first table spill of the night. Some guy just knocked over a glass with liquid on my SLR camera and it almost reached my laptop. Tragedy averted thanks to Kyle running to get paper towels.
She suddenly falls but then gets back up again and stand still. Looks like she is chewing some gum now. Or is she chewing candy? A nut? The room is quiet and you can hear her chewing. I’m starting to feel like I’m typing too loud.
Daniel and I agree that there’s something retro about the feeling around this piece. The simplicity of the action and the quiet hush of the crowd. Most of the performances tonight have been greeted with some noise and comments.
Whatever Faith Johnson was eating, she seems to be smearing it on her lips and face now. Was it the same thing we saw her chewing? It’s hard to tell. She has spread it on her face like a mask and she is getting more from her lip or tongue, I can’t tell.
The silence of the crowd is adding to the theatrical nature of this piece. She is drinking a clear liquid as if it was a mouthwash and spewing it out of her mouth now, it’s not quite spitting.
She just pulled out a crystal pendant and is now playing with it as light dances across the wall — sort of like a disco ball but calmer.
Contrary to the program, next up is Holly Farout + Sarah H. Paulson with Katurah Hutcheson. They are known for their durational performances and I think they may be the only ones who have performed at every Maximum Perception festival. I definitely remember them last time in 2009.
12:47pm – Holly Farout + Sarah H. Paulson with Katurah Hutcheson
Two nude women recline on chairs. A soft song plays in the background. Two TVs are set up. The left monitor shows a woman doing something with a Christmas tree – perhaps pulling out the needles – the other monitor shows a nude women bent over on a wooden frame with some wicker.
An older woman has walked in and placed the grass/brush on each of the nude women and she is rocking herself on the floor as she eats something from a tray with compartments in front of her. She doesn’t seem emotional but somewhat calm.
The woman seated on the floor lights incense (or was it a match), and she’s doing a number of things in her hands that are hard to decipher as she continues to eat/chew on things in the tray. The nude woman occasionally look out to the audience with no expression on their faces.
The older woman hugged one of the nude woman, and the action was mimicked in one of the video screens. She returned to the floor and now she’s hugging the other woman.
I’m getting the feeling of loss in the actions. Like time is passing. Small actions aggregate. Pine needles being pulled from a branch, burning incense representing the passage of time, and the rocking, all small elements that together feel symbolic of something bigger.
The room is now filled with the smell of the incense and the music is calming. There is an almost spiritual air to the display and a sense of ritual. It’s difficult to decipher though.
The two nude women have locked their necks together and seem almost to be comforting each other but their expressions remain rather stoic.
The smoke is starting to bother the eyes of one of the nude women. They seem to oscillate between inactivity and small spurts of movement, though never more than a few gestures and always returning to a state of what looks like bodily collapse.
Daniel disagrees with my assessment that it is about loss and things it may be about boredom. So, I’ll let him explain.
The faces of the nudes seem to be disengaged. The women on the monitors do the same things over and over again. Maybe boredom casts too negative of a judgment. But there is a lot of repetition and monotony.
Suddenly, the nude women get up from the chairs. The TVs are turned off. All three leave the stage. The piece is over.
Next up, the final performance, is Alice Vogler’s “Rebuilt Involuntary Vision.”
1:25am – Alice Volger, “Rebuilt Involuntary Vision”
A woman dressed all in white walks in a circle around the gallery. Scissors, beakers, jars with stuff, and a bird house all dangle from her body. There is a jingling sound.
Her shirt reads opportunity disguised as loss — so this one is definitely about loss,
She has created a circle of small white birds around the light and near the center are three ice cubes melting.
She’s cutting pats of her shirt with scissors. I can’t help but think of Yoko Ono’s cut piece, though the audience is not involved in this case.
After cutting through two shirts she is spinning in the circle of light and white birds and in the process stepping on them and the scissors on the floor. She was fallen to the ground, gotten up and is collecting the birds to be placed in her bird house, which hangs from her neck.
Curator Peter Dobill just thanked everyone, and there was applause.
Just discussing the differences between tonight and last night, and tonight it felt like the artists really utilized the room and space to its maximum potential. There was less atmospheric works and all the works tonight had some dark undertones, with the exception of Orion Maxted’s “Banana,” which was absurd.
Rob Andrews work challenged me the most as an audience member. I was uncertain how to react.
We’re still talking about tonight but can’t seem to summarize it. Daniel’s reaction is, “fuck closure.”
I’m sure we’ll be writing about this again.
Also, just found out that the gun used during Rafael Sanchez’s performance was a bb gun.