The Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) is picking up speed, and this last week was its busiest yet.
I should mention that I nearly lost my mind in the sweltering heat, but I tried to keep my cool as I encountered every type of performance you could imagine.
From the polished “is it theater-or-performance-art” work of Ann Liv Young to the nausea-inducing work of Arai Shin-Ichi at Grace Exhibition Space, here is a taste of what was on the menu.
“No Wave Performance Task Force Debate, Round II: Labor” Organized/Structured by Lindsey Drury (NYC)
The Woods Cooperative (Wednesday, July 10) — I’ve already written about this experiment in choreographing a conversation. What has stayed with me since I attended this work was how communal the experience truly felt. Even as an “outsider” I felt inside the conversation.
“Performance Passed” Discussion/Performance (Various)
Glasshouse (Thursday, July 11) — This discussion about personal histories with performance art was a nice way to get to know those who were present. Listening to people’s early experiences with performance was enlightening and proved to me that interest is only bound to grow with this art form as it attracts more practitioners and fans.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Yuenjie Maru (Hong Kong)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — Maru performed the whole night in the bathroom. Yes, everyone had to use the bathroom with him in there, and it was the only bathroom.
“Climate Change” evening performance by W Christiawan (Indonesia)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — This artist’s performance appeared to concentrate on representations of the self during intimate and vulnerable moments. His face never emotionally engaged with the audience, even when all his gestures did.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Shiraishi Tamio (NYC)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — A screeching serenade, Tamio’s short performance was a jolt of aural intensity between bout of a lot of silence.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Arai Shin-Ichi (Japan)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — The most memorable performance of the night was certainly Shin-Ichi’s homage to America, complete with all his favorite condiments, magazines pages, memories, and even an issue of October magazine. Shin-Ichi mimicked the machoism of Jackson Pollock and then threw himself into the performance (literally) by slipping and sliding in what felt like a satire on art making in some grand modernist tradition. This was also one of the only performance that has ever made me feel physically ill. The smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the room mixed with the smell of the condiments and the sight of Shin-Ichi stuffing paper into his mouth was a volatile mix. Many people told me afterward they felt equally queasy during the performance.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Gim Gwang Cheol (South Korea)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — The Korean artist’s work evolved from a simple gesture of unraveled a crisp newspaper to end poetically with a paper flower. In between, Cheol used a box cutter (and many slashing gestures) to cut a red string on his neck, which was a little frightening to witness.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Margaret O’Hara (NYC)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — O’Hara’s performative drawing was an unexpected and unannounced treat during the evening. She sketched the movements of the artists as they performed, and in the process this act of drawing was a performance in and of itself.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Mimi Fadmi (Indonesia)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — The allusions to Guantanamo detainees were obvious in Fadmi’s work, but it didn’t feel heavy-handed until Nirvana’s “Rape Me” began to play half-way through. She also created one of the most impactful moments when she crawled on the podium with a plastic hood and large knife feeling for white balloons to burst.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Park Kyeong Hwa (South Korea)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — Hwa’s work was firmly entrenched in the idea of language and books that have a sense of romance. She seemed to ask: do emotions translate as easily into the digital frame?
“Climate Change” evening performance by Dylan Christiawan (Indonesia)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — Whimsical and funny, Christiawan’s work was hard to decipher but never took itself too seriously from what I could tell.
“Climate Change” evening performance by Miao Jiaxin (NYC) and Heeran Lee (South Korea/NYC)
Grace Exhibition Space (Friday, July 12) — This long performance by these two artists had an almost cinematic feel as it transitioned from one scene to another, but endowed with a sense of drama. A man in a business suit cuts a hole in the ceiling, undresses, and a woman comes by to inflate a balloon filled with money on his body. The resulting spectacle ended when the couple hid the money in the ceiling and concealed what we can only assume was their crime.
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (NYC)
JACK Theater (Saturday, July 13) — Kosoko’s performance played with African-American stereotypes and our expectations of black men as performers. From a hybrid basketball/ball and chain, copies of seminal African-American books, photos of black people from magazines, and a black minstrel image on stick, the scene was chock full of imagery related to representations of blackness. At one point during his performance, Kosoko forced audience members to take a whiff of the ass of a white male doll wrapped in an American flag as he lit it on fire and passed it under their nose, all while he said “white booty.”
Sabotanic Garden (Finland)
JACK Theater (Saturday, July 13) — A chaotic mixture of (this is my guess) Nordic myths, surreal music, and 21st century zaniness, this Finnish group walked the edge of creepy/bizarre during their whole performance. At one point the main character approached me from behind and dry humped my head, but that’s neither here nor there.
Antibody Corporation (Chicago)
JACK Theater (Saturday, July 13) — The trio performed three short performances that explored the nature of the human body in various states. Influenced by various types of dance (modern and club, for instance), each vignette seemed keen to capture how one emotional state can quickly transform into another.
Ann Liv Young (NYC)
JACK Theater (Saturday, July 13) — The headliner for the evening, Ann Liv Young didn’t disappoint and she abused her audience along the way. I plan to write a much longer piece about this car crash of a performance (you may hate it, but you can’t help but rubberneck), but until then I just want to say that Young really knows how to fill a spotlight.
The Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival continues until July 28, 2013.