Helen Shaw

  • performance September 18, 2018

    And What of the Night?

    SHE HAS A BEAUTIFUL CAT FACE—incredible feline cheekbones and a smile that reveals strangely changing teeth, sometimes fierce and snaggled and gold, sometimes smooth. She flirts with the camera as she sits at an outdoor café somewhere. The footage is casual. A voice asks, “Irene, does the camera make you uncomfortable?” She laughs.

    No! I love it!

    Don’t you understand?

    The camera to me is my beloved

    The one who understands me

    The one who wants me always

    and I give everything I have to the camera

    If you’ve ever been cornered by a Maria Irene Fornes1 obsessive, you’ve heard her described as “

  • performance June 20, 2018

    Of Goddesses and Monsters

    AT THE MOMENT OF THE SPRING EQUINOX on March 21st, I was standing in the basement coat check room of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The place was closed—it was 12:15pm on a Tuesday—so there weren’t any coats, but there was a little line of toaster-sized “dirt” clod sculptures sitting on the counter. A crowd of vernal worshippers and theater-fans had followed a team of celebrants here from the massive glass-and-concrete lobby upstairs, where a gaggle of women dressed like Russian space peasants had oriented us according to civil time, nautical time, and astronomical time. We had been admonished

  • performance March 07, 2018

    Forever Young

    THE LEGENDARY VENUE P.S. 122—rechristened Performance Space New York—finally reopened in January. It’s hard to encompass the tangled mare’s nest of this building’s cultural associations: the place is like an archaeological site, with layers of civilization and history piled up higgledy-piggledy. Occupied originally in the late 1970s by a group of squatter-artists, the repurposed school building and its two theaters were at the center of New York’s experimental scene for nearly four decades. Spalding Gray spoke his monologues there. Philip Glass played a battered piano. Ron Athey literally bled