COLUMNS

  • Every Which Way

    IN A FOUR-WAY “conversation” with his collaborator Silas Riener, dance critic Claudia La Rocco, and lighting designer Davison Scandrett, posted on Bomblog on the eve of Way In’s premiere, choreographer and dancer Rashaun Mitchell said: “I’m always thinking about what’s the way into this and out of this.” What follows are four ways into the piece I went to see at Danspace Project during its brief run, offered up as my way of making sense of it (with a little help from my friends).

    The Way of Taste

    In a prior incarnation, a site-specific performance and installation at the BFI Gallery in Miami, Way

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  • Valhalla, I Am Coming

    WITH TEMPERATURES in the mid-twenties and a forecasted high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, not to mention a “wind advisory” in effect until 6 PM, the last Sunday before Thanksgiving in New York City began as either the first real day of winter or the absolute last day of fall, depending on your personal calculus of late-November cold. It was on this morning, around 10 AM, that a dozen or so spandex-clad runners began to assemble in the foyer of an otherwise shuttered Luhring Augustine gallery in Chelsea. Their objective: to run, as a group, from the gallery, thirty miles north to Kensico Cemetery in

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  • Hit or Myth

    THERE WERE UNEXPECTED ZEITGEISTS that bubbled up through the curated themes of Performa 13, one of which was the rewriting of cosmologies both personal and shared. It certainly made sense. The artist, like any creator, makes the world, unmakes the world, and/or remakes the world each according to their own compass. In some cases, the self was very much at the center of the work; in others, the artist seemed to serve as a lens for what lies beyond our present knowledge.

    “This idea of animal does not fit nicely into our typical ideas of city,” wrote Denise Hoffman-Brandt and Catherine Seavitt

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  • Live from New York

    PERFORMA, THE AMBITIOUS BIENNIAL FESTIVAL of theater and performance held here in New York, is now in its fifth iteration, hosting over one hundred events at more than forty venues throughout the first three weeks of November. As with all festivals, it’s a chance to exhaust oneself running from theater to gallery to museum, gorging on plays, performance pieces, and other, more hybrid genres. While the offerings I’ve seen so far have been of varying success, Performa is doing what it does best: providing a focused opportunity to witness the varied state(s) of the rambling field they call “visual

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  • You Don’t Know Squat

    “HERE WE GO,” someone in the crowd, I’m almost positive it was The Unidentified Flying Dancer, said with an anticipatory sigh that seemed born of long experience, maybe? Batten down the hatches.

    The UFD (aka Sheryl Sutton), issued her warning on a recent Wednesday night at Electronic Arts Intermix, as a conversation between two former members of the Hungarian-born collective Squat Theatre, long since disbanded, staggered to a halt:

    Anna Koos: “It’s my opinion, let me have my opinion.”

    Eva Buchmuller: “But I can argue.”

    Koos, Buchmuller, and Sutton (a Squat collaborator) had gathered for a screening

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  • Conflict Resolution

    LAST YEAR, when MoMA launched its Some sweet day dance series curated by the choreographer Ralph Lemon, there was a lot of talk about the impossibility of the atrium space as a site for any art, let alone a body-based one, and about the fraught tensions between these two art-world cultures.

    But, really, what were we all thinking?

    That was my thought on Sunday afternoon, when I spent a little more than two hours watching Levée des conflits extended (Suspension of Conflicts Extended) by the French choreographer Boris Charmatz. The work, from 2010, comprises twenty-five gestures performed by twenty-four

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  • Oto Didacts

    “IS IT JUST ME? Lightning Bolt’s been doing it for, like, ten years,” a stranger sidles up, sensing a fellow-skeptic. I nod. “The shirtless thing, the masks,” he adds. My response is drowned out by waves of sonic interference. Out there in the spotlight, a balaclava-clad man stripped down to his waist is pounding away at some homemade drumlike instrument, while his bare-chested companion, a shaggy black wig covering up his face, is strumming on something resembling an elongated rocket. We’re being treated to sonic warfare by Poland’s noise rock band BNNT. Derivative or not, the act has got raw

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  • Means to an End

    THE END, whether it is near or not, is certainly upon us: The contemporary American imagination is seized by the terror that we—here, now—are civilization’s last sigh. Film, television, and literature are of course the most prolific purveyors of sensational apocalyptic visions, offering an array of endings to suit every demographic. (It is of no comfort to observe that in our politically fractured, post-Empire America, one of the few unifying sentiments is an impending sense of doom.) We may be besieged by flesh-eating zombies, obliterated by a rogue asteroid, enslaved by alien invaders, wiped

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  • Ifs, Ands, or Butts

    EVERYONE HAD KIND OF NOTICED, but then forgotten, the big yellow woodchipper. But now somebody fired it up; the performers, still dressed in their candystriped vaudeville getups, sliced through a giant Laura Owens painting with a little branch-clearing chainsaw and fed it piece by piece into the machine’s funnel.

    Joe Sola and Michael Webster have appeared as Shakey’s since 2006. For Shakey’s in “Der Hintern in der Luft,” held on Saturday, September 14, the duo turned their knack for endearing self-effacement on their willing venue—356 S. Mission, famous in Los Angeles for hosting “12 Paintings

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  • the Manchester International Festival

    SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 2007, the Manchester Inter­national Festival has leaned heavily on curator Hans Ulrich Obrist for advice on the portion of its programming devoted to visual art, which the biennial always features alongside big-name acts from pop and theater (this year’s lineup included Kenneth Branagh, in Macbeth; Massive Attack; and the xx). Obrist, for his part, seems to have continually used the festival to rethink the relationship between performance and visual art. In 2007, he and Philippe Parreno staged the first iteration of “Il Tempo del Postino,” an attempt to reinvent the

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  • Dig Your Own Hole

    “WHO DIED?” the kid stood on the sidewalk on Metropolitan Avenue, just off Berry Street in Williamsburg, staring in through the raised garage door.

    Outside was a funeral announcement. Inside were such things as: a table of booze; a mound of dirt sunk into a coffin-shaped cutout in the floor; and a man in a smart black hat, veil, and plunge-neck, slit-to-the-thigh dress that showed off an awful lot of body hair.

    “The real estate,” replied the man, one Eric Dyer.

    The kid, maybe in his mid-20s, nodded and craned his neck a little further. “Looks like it was pretty nice.”

    Dyer nodded, too, his eyes

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  • Fall to Pieces

    LET’S START WITH THE DISCLAIMER: This isn’t an exhaustive or even an exhaustively researched fall performance rundown. It is, rather, a somewhat random cross-selection of artists, events, and theaters that, whether for excitement, track record, or sheer train-wreck potential, will get me out of the house in the coming months, even after the inevitable New York fall arts stampede has made roadkill of us all.

    “Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980,” opening October 31 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

    Historical performance

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