COLUMNS

  • 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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  • 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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