New York

Lydia Lunch, The Gun is Loaded

The Performing Garage

Like her records, videotapes, and writings, Lydia Lunch’s performance monologue The Gun Is Loaded tried to fall off the edge of the rational world with its relentless obscenities, unrelieved negativity, and flat-footed presentation. What was revealed, however, was not a devastating glimpse of the abyss, but the almost total failure of the clichés of classic blasphemy to shock. Lunch’s “too much” was not nearly enough; her additions to the nihilistic vocabulary—praise of “the plague” (clearly AIDS) as population control, rape fantasies with “niggers”—were as ineffectual as the other, standard tropes she used. Overloaded with tritely cynical messages, clumsily acted out, and headed nowhere dramatically, Lunch’s Gun was, by any logical standard of performance, a fizzling misfire, a blank-shooting popgun rather than a searing, murderous superweapon. Without any potent ammunition, she resorted

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 PRINT EDITION of the September 1987 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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