COLUMNS

  • Environmental Hazards

    YOU CAN’T SWING A DEAD CAT these days without hitting a reference to the “Anthropocene,” the term for what some argue is a new geological age caused by humans fucking up the environment. Philosopher Bruno Latour’s play Gaïa Global Circus—which had its US premiere at the Kitchen last week (it first played in September 2012 as part of Documenta 13 in Kassel)—invokes the Anthropocene to tackle hairy issues about who bears responsibility for global climate change, and what can possibly be done about it. Like the Civilians’ play The Great Immensity that was at the Public Theater earlier this year,

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  • Days of Future Pasta

    AS I LEANED over the table to assess the respective merits of two equally intricate pasta necklaces that were being fashioned before my eyes, a participant in Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s Iron Age Pasta Workshop spoke my thoughts out loud: “It’s like kindergarten.” Her painted face (and arms), homemade costume and headdress seemed to bear this out. Other similarly disguised Chetwynd familiars and some laymen were applying themselves to the task of stringing and gluing together an assortment of painted pasta, mostly of the tubular variety, laid out for that purpose on two makeshift tables.

    Only this

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  • Falling Down

    ONE WEEK before his performance last month at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, I sought out Hu Xiangqian in his Upper East Side studio apartment. Amid dozens of ceiling-high houseplants, in front of a full-length mirror, stood a music-stand, to which were taped copious handwritten scripts. Hu was silent about the details of his upcoming performance, but screened for me instead a video of his most recent work, Speech At The Edge Of The World, made for inclusion in this year’s Gwangju Biennial. The two works share a protagonist, and the format of a public speech.

    In his video, Hu plays the

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  • Time and Again

    YOU ALL KNOW THE DRILL: It’s fall. There are things happening.

    Here are just a few of them, as filtered through a sensibility that may in no way be compatible with your own:

    1. The inimitable ballerina Wendy Whelan is giving her farewell New York City Ballet performance on October 18, ending an astonishingly fertile thirty-year run that has included collaborations with just about every ballet choreographer of note, and performances of breathtaking command and finesse. Say you were inclined to commit some sort of semi-serious crime to get a ticket to a show this fall—this is the one. Otherwise,

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  • Lunch Break

    Last week, I had lunch with Anna Halprin. On her deck, in a little screened in gazebo, surrounded by a cathedral-like cluster of redwoods. She made a really good salad, which I ate more of than she did.

    The hillside around us was buzzing with insect and bird life. The water pitcher was cool to the touch. Her hands, it should go without saying, were amazing, thick with ropey wrinkles, tanned and strong. She wore two gold wedding bands on her left hand, one on her middle finger—I didn’t ask, but I assume, that the larger one belonged to her late husband, the architect Lawrence Halprin.

    I want to

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  • Talking About My Generation

    I DON’T CARE how long Jennifer Lacey has been an American in Paris. She’ll always be a New York dancer to me. Something about her combination of a fiercely casual physical precision (what, this old thing?) and a conceptual poetics—or is it a poetic conceptualism?—as survival mechanism... it’s perfection.

    Really I could just say that New York dancers are the best thing I can think of and leave it at that (Maggie Cloud, Simon Courchel, Burr Johnson, and especially Stuart Singer in John Jasperse’s Within Between at New York Live Arts, for example, or all of New York City Ballet in this past season’s

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  • Sleeping Around

    “YOU HERE for the dreaming thing?” the man asked me. I’d interrupted his smoke break by knocking on a door I thought was the entrance to see Jim Findlay and Jeff Jackson’s performance piece, Dream of the Red Chamber. I apologized for my interruption, but he was unfazed. Whether you live in New York or not, everyone is a tourist in Times Square. “Go back to Broadway,” he waved, “take a left, and go past the door that says Brill Building and you’ll see it right there. Can’t miss it.” I hustled past the packs of not-from-heres, all of us in a kind of high-definition delirium beneath the video

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  • A Life in the Theater

    SINCE ITS FOUNDING IN 1958, Teatro Oficina has been the touchstone for avant-garde theater in Brazil. Originally conceived and still led by legendary actor-director José Celso Martinez Corrêa—aka Zé Celso—Teatro Oficina is housed in downtown São Paulo in a heritage-listed building designed by architects Lina Bo Bardi and Edson Elito. Directly engaging the ideology and rhetoric of the military dictatorship during its reign while exemplifying the “anthropophagic” strategies propagated by the Brazilian artistic movement known as Tropicália, the group continues to be one of the stalwart critical

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  • Danse the Night Away

    YOU SAY “DANSE,” and I say “dance.”

    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    Or, no, wait, let’s throw a big old festival, eighteen days of French performance, so that we can socialize and skirmish and generally make merry at arts institutions big and small across the great metropolis of New York. Vive la schmoozing! Vive la la!

    I logged three shows and one panel extravaganza during the first four days of “Danse: A French-American Festival of Performance & Ideas,” organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. I wanted to see a fourth show, but I never was able to figure out (dumb American) the

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  • Straight Acting

    “THE DIFFERENCE between theater and performance is that she would have actually penetrated Tony.”

    Such was artist Kenneth Collins’s observation to me while we were watching Ubu Sings Ubu at Abrons Arts Center last week—specifically, while we were watching Julie Atlas Muz fake ass fuck Tony Torn with, if memory serves, a sausage dildo, as they portrayed Ma and Pa Ubu in Torn’s musical adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s fin de siècle rampage of a play Ubu Roi.

    On the one hand, Collins was rolling his eyes at the tediously erroneous visual art tenet that, you know, theater is theatrical and performance

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  • David Levine’s WOW

    “WHEN YOU INVENT THE PLANE, you also invent the plane crash,” Paul Virilio once observed. Every technology carries the seed of its inevitable failure and, as Virilio’s aphorism also suggests, there might be collateral damage when the flameout occurs. And so we can imagine a line running from the beginning of recorded sound—the initial, scratchy separation of voice from body—down to one fateful live MTV broadcast on July 21, 1989. It was then that the CD to which Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were lip-synching skipped, exposing Milli Vanilli, the ridiculously ubiquitous pop duo, as just

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  • Moon Struck

    AN EXPERIMENT: Love someone deeply and for a long time. End it, abruptly. Start fucking someone new. Be surprised—dismayed even—when your body follows a certain choreography as if automatically: a preprogrammed sequence, an anticipation of certain gestures, a procession of amenities customized for one person and perhaps not suited (or even pleasurable) to the new.

    It seems terrible to think we are so rote, mechanized in those moments where we imagine a pliable, attentive body. We want to believe ourselves always capable of change; we want our art to be always running after the new. So much of

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