COLUMNS

  • Christoph Schlingensief

    “TO LET ONESELF BE EATEN is one method. The other is to rot away and thereby give birth to new worms. For the moment I tend toward the first method,” an exalted Christoph Schlingensief, German theater’s most eminent provocateur, told me last July, just a few weeks before the premiere of his production of Parsifal. I was inclined to agree. From a metaphysical point of view he had the biggest job in the business: The opera festival that opens every summer in the small Bavarian town of Bayreuth was originally financed in 1876 by oddball King Ludwig II and given the philosophical blessing of none

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  • Jonathan Gilmore on William Kentridge’s Ritorno d’Ulisse

    ALTHOUGH IT STANDS as a paradigm of a Gesamtkunstwerk, opera has largely relegated the visual arts to only a subsidiary role: as costume, scene, and setting, both literal and figurative background to the expressive voice. In William Kentridge’s multimedia production of Monteverdi’s 1640 masterwork Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (which premiered in New York in March), this hierarchy is undone. For here, as in several other theater productions he has directed (Ubu and the Truth Commission, 1997; Woyzeck on the Highveld, 1992; Faustus in Africa!, 1995; Zeno at 4 a.m., 2001), Kentridge does not so much clothe

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  • Bob Nickas on Leigh Bowery

    “IT WAS A BIT LIKE GOING to the zoo and watching Guy the Gorilla in drag.” That’s how Cerith Wyn Evans recalls Leigh Bowery’s weeklong London performance at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in 1988. Bowery, each day in a different costume of his own design, appeared behind a one-way mirror, with an Empire divan on which to perch, pose, or recline. Visitors saw him, but he saw only himself, performed for his own reflection. Footage of the event figures prominently in The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2002), Charles Atlas’s recently unveiled documentary, and the spooky, otherworldly spell that Bowery casts is

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  • the Five Lesbian Brothers

    Bitter jealousy, glorious revenge, corrupted innocence—these are the tropes of an emerging pulp lesbian sensibility that traffics in the tawdry castoffs of ’50s and ’60s American pop culture. The territory of fanzines, girl bands, and a host of recent artists and writers, this self-consciously downbeat vision salvages its images from a mélange of bad plays, pop psych, and supermarket novels from Ann Bannon to Jacqueline Susann. Trashy, melodramatic, and trading on irony, its seductions collide with more familiar aims of gay cultural politics: countering the stereotype, fighting misrepresentation,

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