COLUMNS

  • 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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  • Black Ties

    “AT 7:30 be ready to go across the street to that building there,” a man standing by the open window whispered as he placed a square wooden object in the palm of my hand. I followed the direction of his gaze to a tall opulent building—the Vault Karaköy, which used to house the Credit General Ottoman, recently converted into a luxury hotel—on the other side of Bankalar Caddesi, just a few doors down from SALT in Istanbul’s Galata quarter.

    For the time-being we found ourselves in a shabby room bathed in an eerie blue light, as Charles Arsène-Henry initiated some of the black-clad dinner guests into

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  • When the Spirit Moves You

    A FEW YEARS AGO, I wrote a review of New York City Ballet in which I talked about Balanchine’s great works as “museum pieces.” To me this wasn’t denigrating, merely stating fact—and so I was rather taken aback when, a couple of days later, I found myself again at City Ballet getting my tickets, and an older critic came rushing up behind me, screeching, “Don’t let her in! She hates Balanchine!”

    I thought about this Tuesday night at New York Live Arts, during a performance by the Trisha Brown Dance Company that included reconstructions of her Son of Gone Fishin’, 1981, and Solo Olos, 1976. It felt

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  • Master Narratives

    LANCE GRIES, Diane Madden, Juliette Mapp, Jimena Paz; Wally Cardona, Jennifer Lacey, Silas Riener; Christiana Axelsen, Jennifer Lafferty, Heather Lang, Marilyn Maywald, Kayvon Pourazar, Stuart Singer:

    Let us now praise New York dancers.

    It’s astonishing to think that one could see all of these artists in the span of a mere weekend, and just three shows: IF Immanent Field by Gries at Danspace Project, The Set Up by Cardona and Lacey at the Park Avenue Armory, and Beth Gill’s New Work for the Desert at New York Live Arts. The sheer amount of performance talent in this city—well, it’s ridiculous.

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  • 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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