New York

Eleanor Antin, “'El Desdichado' (The Unlucky One)”

Ronald Feldman Gallery

For this performance Eleanor Antin installed elaborate sets, fit for a theatrical production, and, with the help of hooded “puppeteers” moving two-dimensional cut-out cardboard figures, played a role she has been presenting since 1972—a dispossessed medieval king wandering more like Don Quixote than like Gérard de Nerval’s Desdichado of the title. Various picaresque adventures unfolded, including the witnessing of hangings, stories of rape, seduction by a princess, and finally the Quest (as de rigueur in medieval allegories as the chase in action films). Only Antin spoke, though for many characters.

The event aroused mixed feelings. Yes, it’s delightful to see performance making a comeback this season, and yes, it’s courageous to bring it into a Soho gallery at Christmastime, when most galleries go gift-shop. And yes, again, Antin has become a semilegendary figure whom one is curious to

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