New York

Mabou Mines

The Performing Garage

The Mabou Mines is a performance group intensely preoccupied with the metaphoric possibilities of gesture and movement. They specialize in a variety of mime reminiscent of someone like Charlie Chaplin. For Chaplin, a key technique was the switch image: in The Pawnshop, Chaplin opens a broken alarm clock with a can opener, then sniffs the contents to find out what is wrong. The image of the clock is no longer merely denotative, for through these two simple gestures, the audience recognizes a second object in the clock—a sardine can. The kind of shift of attention involved in Chaplin’s switch image provides the basic esthetic motive behind Mabou Mines. A spherical lamp in a pail becomes an eyeball in the context of the dialogue. The lamp falls out of the pail, momentarily transformed into the image of a tear. Props and gestures function metaphorically for Mabou Mines, involving the audience

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.