An evening Dada revue organized by Tristan Tzara, July 6, 1923’s Soirée du Coeur à Barbe (Night of the Bearded Heart) was the site of an infamous altercation between Tzara’s associates and Surrealist don André Breton at the Théâtre Michel in Paris.
Audience members for Tori Wrånes’s “Yes Nix” performance had to sidestep the artist, who was lying on the floor at the entrance to SIR Stage 37, as they walked in. Her feet were tied in rope, which was strung up to a running track in the ceiling. It was the most confrontational part of the 30-some-minute performance, an otherwise structured and slick series of gestures — a sort of operetta without words.
“Be African-American. Be very African American.” Thus reads a typed instruction on an otherwise blank piece of paper sent by veteran performance artist William Pope.L to Clifford Owens as part of Anthology, the latter’s crowd-sourced performance project staged last year at MoMA PS1.
The idea of a play with no people on stage isn’t new. That is, after all, what the phantasmagoria stage shows of the 18th and 19th centuries were all about, where projections of light with sound conjured a theatrical spectacle of phantoms. In Dutch artist Gabriel Lester’s Super Sargasso Sea (phantom play #1), presented at Abrons Arts Center as part of Performa 13, this experiment was resurrected in a piece of 20 minutes where nothing moved on the angular stage except lights and an occasional door opening and closing.
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.
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.
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.
It’s difficult to create art about white privilege. Though one can easily enough declare that white privilege is bad, distilling all its paradoxes into a poignant artistic image is challenging. And when an artist succeeds, it commands attention.
LONDON — Andy Holden’s current exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection, Maximum Irony, Maximum Sincerity: Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS 1999-2003, tells the story of five friends, Holden among them, who decided to write a manifesto titled Maximum Irony, Maximum Sincerity between 1999 and 2003.
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.
Moles have been underrated by art history. They don’t flaunt it like baroque peacocks, glow like medieval dragons, or bask in contradictions like post-modern minotaurs. But by burrowing tunnels, they blaze new paths and create alternate worlds under our feet.