new-york

Squat Theatre, Dreamland Burns

The Kitchen

In one of the first scenes of the 45-minute film that opens Dreamland Burns, 1985, two men riding in a truck banter about sex and death, and are then revealed to be minor characters and mere lugs, furniture movers who are relocating a young woman from her suburban home to a Manhattan apartment. It’s a comic-mythic Squat Theatre twist, familiar from their previous multimedia performance works, all of which are about an “America” that is part symbol, part cartoon, and part primal urge. Overall, it’s more a dreamlike state of mind than a realistic portrait of an actual place. The America of this Hungarian expatriate theater group is a close cousin of Franz Kafka’s Amerika, another surreal landscape in which off-the-wall observations are brought to vivid life by deadpan humor and implicit moralizing to create a terrifically skewed but somehow essentially accurate take on American myths. Like

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.