COLUMNS

  • You’ve Got Mail

    I’M RUNNING LATE for my appointment with the Anembassador of Abkhazia. The fact that it’s only a mock-embassy hosted by an art institution and that I’m meeting the anembassador of a country that does not even figure on some maps is no excuse. Maxim Gvinjia, Abkhazia’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, doesn’t seem to mind. I thank him for granting me an audience. The rules of the game have not been spelled out at any point yet I find myself playing along, unable to decide whether to take this exercise seriously or in jest.

    While he goes out to fetch some milk for my coffee (the anembassy appears

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  • String Theory

    PERFORMANCE IS A CRAFT and not a right, as some artists and related others would have audiences think. Artist/performer Aki Sasamoto, however, is a rare example of someone for whom performance is both craft and right, and her latest show, Sunny in the Furnace, is yet more proof of her uncommon expertise over this slippery medium. Together with her equally accomplished collaborators—composer/musician John Bollinger, performer Jessica Weinstein, sculptor Sam Ekwurtzel, and mathematics professor, Pau Atela—Sasamoto fuses theater, sculpture, storytelling, moving image, mark-making, and music into

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  • Four on the Floor

    I saw Sarah Michelson’s 4 on Saturday, February 1 at 2 PM. This is some of what happened to me, while sitting for one hundred minutes on half of a round, backless cushion on the fourth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s not so comfortable, to sit like that.

    The audience arrives in tiers. Everyone walks across the raised and painted Masonite stage. There is no “offstage.” Barbara Bryan, Michelson’s manager, walks around in white jeans, converse, a sweatshirt tagged with SM’s familiar portrait, holding a walkie-talkie.

    We face the elevators. There are the guards. The dancers’ silent

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  • APAP Smear

    ONE.

    “We began to engage in a strange duel of asceticism,” Edgar Oliver explained, if that’s the word, during Helen & Edgar, his monologue about growing up in Savannah, Georgia, with his sister and mother. If only. This show, part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, was the single best hour I spent during the orgy of excess at APAP, the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ conference.

    Twelve performances, five production meetings, three showings, two conferences, one studio visit, and various miscellaneous networking and social happenings, concentrated in Manhattan with

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  • Claudia La Rocco

    WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THESE LISTS.

    They’re weird; I think we can all acknowledge that.

    As well as wildly spotty and biased and unscientific (in the artistic sense). One of their (my) problems is that they don’t take into account all of the shows the people (me) writing these lists didn’t see—you know, like Jon Kinzel’s Someone Once Called Me a Sound Man, which happened at the Chocolate Factory Theater earlier this month and, according to everything everyone smart said, was one of the best things to have hit a New York stage in ages. Didn’t see it, dunno, can’t comment, etc. And yet. Yes. Let’s put it

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  • Growing Pains

    AS THE STORY GOES, performance artist Marina Abramović asked director Robert Wilson if he would stage her funeral as a theatrical event that would double as “a celebration of life and death combined.” Wilson agreed, with the proviso that she grant him permission to stage her life as well. The artist consented and supplied Wilson with personal anecdotes and biographical details; she also promised to participate as a performer. Wilson enlisted actor Willem Dafoe, composer/lyricist/performer Antony, singer Svetlana Spajić, composer William Basinski, as well as an impressive group of other musicians

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  • 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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