Posted inPerformance

The Questions of Performa 13

Marianne Vitale’s “The Missing Book of Spurs,” her commission for Performa 13, features half-naked women in corsets, a man in assless chaps, and “natives” in outfits inspired by traditional Native American clothing; it features blocks of wood, a wooden sculpture that looks like a torpedo, and a large, old-fashioned wooden bar; it features loud music, a smoke machine, and erotic dancing. It is a big spectacle. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s anything else.

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When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

I didn’t know what to expect from Einat Amir’s “Our Best Intentions,” a work premiering in New York as part of Performa 13. I had seen the trailer, which suggests a fairly emotional experience. I had read the description on the Performa site, which says the participatory piece blends “psychotherapy, theater and art.” I braced myself for honesty. I was a little nervous.

Posted inPerformance

Original Sin, Original Theater

Experiencing “The Humans” does require some stamina, as it’s a three-hour long play that often dips into follies that can drag a bit long. Yet if you’re interested in theater, the influences of art’s obsession with forms, Shakespeare, Wodehouse, and scatological humor wrapped around a frame of the Greek satire of Aristophanes is an intriguing experiment.

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Dissecting Contemporary Dance

Even for those well-versed in contemporary dance, Maria Hassabi’s work can sometimes test the very applicability of the term. Sure, postmodernism has expanded dance’s vocabulary to include all sorts of things well outside the limitations of formal technique, from pedestrian movement to text and so on, but at some level, most people still expect to see performers actually move around on stage at a dance piece.

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Butoh, the Body, and Perception

There’s a moment in your first life-drawing class where your perception shifts and you start looking at the naked body in front of you differently. At least that was my experience. Instead of feeling uncomfortable with the nudity or paying attention to judgments and assumptions about the person in front of me, I started to look at the lines and curves of their body, the connections between joints, colors, and textures.

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A Digital Artist Goes Analogue, but the Message Is Fuzzy

Sitting in the audience for the performance of Ann Hirsch’s “Playground” at the New Museum last week, two things came to mind: one, that Hirsch had managed to trick a bunch of art school kids and fans of her often web-based art into coming to a very conventional theater production; and two, that the plot of her play felt a little conservative, despite Hirsch’s larger body of work that seeks to question representations of female minds, bodies, and sexualities on the internet.