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Posted inPerformance

Channeling Tragedy, Comedy and Judy Garland

So there I stood, sharing a cigarette with my friends on the curb outside of La MaMa. We were patiently waiting for the house to open for former NEA 4 defendant John Fleck’s show, “Mad Women,” a dizzying one-man mash-up of the performance artist’s life with the final year of the legendary Judy Garland, when one of the producers approached me and asked, “Do you want to be in the show?”

Posted inPerformance

An Offering of Three Shen Wei Dance Pieces at the Park Avenue Armory

I spent part of the third section of Shen Wei’s modern dance showing at the Park Avenue Armory on Tuesday watching a shoeless young woman (a member of the audience who was, like me, allowed to wander along the grid of 60 dancer-inhabited squares of performance space), stare slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the topless performers smeared with paint leaping and spinning and writhing before her. Her proximity to them was probably jarring enough, but add to that experience the intimidating vastness of the Armory’s coliseum-sized hangar with booming surround sound and a reverberating floor, and its easy to see why someone might drop all pretense of understanding and question what’s expected of them.

Posted inPerformance

Hipsterspotting with MGMT & Cattelan at the Guggenheim

Hyperallergic rocks it in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so naturally we felt compelled to review MGMT’s performance at the Guggenheim last night. The band, a staple of any Williamsburg playlist, performed in the rotunda of the museum as part of the 2011 Guggenheim International Gala to celebrate Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s blockbuster exhibition, All. The night was a glossy affair with art world insiders and rich board members and their entourages shmoozing and boozing under Cattelan’s epic sculpture web. As soon as I got to the party I had one question: where are all the hipsters at?

Posted inPerformance

Scandinavian Duo Provides Meta Start to Performa 2011

Tuesday night’s premiere of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s “Happy Days in the Art World” at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts kicked off this year’s Performa “new visual art performance biennial.” A commissioned work, the piece was clearly a work of theatre and not performance art, which the duo is better known for. If a play could give its intended audience a blow job or cunnilingus, well, let’s say this one would be very very popular.

Posted inPerformance

Pen Meets Pick: Screaming Females and Doodle Drag Perform

Screaming Females are one of those bands who are just that good; they have an unwavering idea about who they are and what they want to do, have worked relentlessly to get where they are and have retained their weirdo aesthetic throughout. In the past two years, the band has gained the attention of indie icons like Henry Rollins and Jay Mascis, and they have played to huge auditoriums and basements alike, sharing the stage with bands like Dinosaur Jr., Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Yo La Tengo as well as dozens of local musicians just starting out. The band doesn’t stop at concerts either — on March 30th, Screaming Females teamed up with frontwoman Marissa Paternoster and LNY’s new art collective, called Doodle Drag, for a multimedia show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Posted inPerformance

Men Made of Marble

Every now and then, if lucky, you’ll encounter a mode of performance or an artwork that simultaneously requires and supplies a kind of attention that you didn’t even know existed. Sitting in an otherworldly, attentive, stupor, I had that experience watching marble white humans covered in a thin layer of dust on a stage that seemed to be both as empty as nothing at all and, at the same time, as full as a night sky.

As Sankai Juku begins their recent piece, TOBARI, everything melts into darkness and a lone human form materializes — bald, half-naked, monochrome; the dust looks like it’s marble or bone, maybe a thin layer of atomic ash, and it covers the body, which, for a while, is motionless; a quiet, lunar presence in a dark room.