Torture Chorus, Breakfast With The Moors Murderers

Franklin Furnace

Los Angeles’ principle contribution to performance has been a kind of homemade Dada cabaret. It’s characteristics include a deliberately naive presentation, scabrous and childish subject matter, a mocking humor, and a blurring of the boundaries between performance and outrageous behavior—a desire to shock at any cost. Located in an ill-defined gray zone between offbeat comedy, new vaudeville, punk rock, and a let’s-put-on-a-show theater, this hybrid form has not traveled well, so much does it depend on the ambient context of Southern California anomie and rage, of one-time, undefined clubs and free-floating anarchy. A recent performance by Torture Chorus proved to be no exception: the group’s New York effort seemed to be completely drained of its purported ferocious wit by the presentational frame. It was not clear that the performance had ended until, after a long, confusing pause, the

to keep reading

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

Not registered for 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 April 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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