Archives for category: Performance Art

Though I miss the Martians, I appreciate what’s taken its place; real-world initiatives – like Biosphere 2, NASA’s Rover- and creative efforts that give us a lively peek into the future of interplanetary habitation. Each weekend at The Boiler, The Menu for Mars Kitchen by Douglas Paulson and Heidi Neilson and chefs (a rotating cast of art-foodie futurists) concoct beverages, and assorted meals, all made from ingredients carefully chosen for space-travel duration. While this loosely translates into lots of dried stuff, liquid and lard, the surprise is in the taste and texture; (mine was mac n’cheese made from freeze-dried crickets) not to mention conversations that hover deftly above the earth’s gravitational field (references to sci-fi flicks). Real-time mini-cams project multiple views of chefs deep in thoughtful food prep, relaying ingredients and sharing cooking tips as curious earthlings, peruse and read text posted to set-ups, drawings and plants all sealed within a plastic enclosure that conjures up the possibility of thriving on the red planet.

Tattfoo Tan

David Grainger

Participants: Albert Park, Alex Tsocanos, Alice Gorman, Anna Dabney Smith & David Grainger, Gil Lopez, Heather Kapplow & Thalia Zedek, Hoi Cheng, John Roach, Joshua Liebowitz, Justin Amrhein, Kerim Zapsu, Lindsay Iserman, Marco Castro, The Planetary Society ¬New York City, Sian Proctor, Tattfoo Tan, Ward Shelley, Will Owen with Matthias Borello.

Took a bus trip up to SUNY, NP,  from downtown NYC with many of the original members of this 60’s video collective. The trip up to New Paltz was animated and festive as Skip Blumberg a former freex-er, strolled the aisle welcoming old friends from the collective along with younger fans.  Bus monitors were ablaze with freex videos, and on-board noise cheerful with  introductions, stories and general hob-nobbing. EAI Executive Director Lori Zippay was aboard as was former MoMa curator Barbara London. Greeting us upon arrival the Samuel Dorsky Museum, was Andrew Ingall, Curator, who welcokmed  the group with  a wonderful spread; the Prosecco was flowing. A large community and distance traveling fan base turned out for the opening, and I bumped into videographer Kathy High (Associate Professor of Video Art & New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic) and Paper Tiger’s Dee Dee Hallek.  Made the acquaintance of renowned theatrical  lighting designer Beverly Emmons (!) and another freexer, Davidson Gigliotti.  The  Museum did a great job of showing the video in the context of ephemera from that time, from photos of Maple Tree Farm, to events posters and news-media clippings. I was most impressed by footage of a performance taken on Prince street (late 60’s early 70’s) of naked artists being soaked in pigs blood dropped from above.

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Maria Lassnig
Illuminating was the work of Austrian painter Maria Lassnig at PS1, having just come from Coded After Lovelace at White Box Gallery on the LES. The dominant theme in Lassnig’s work are self-portraits, particularly her representation of ‘body as self’, in which the work -over time- presents her journey from abstract Euclidian form to her haunting painting style. In later work, inner psychological conflicts meet harsh external realities; creature-like heads merge with prosthetic artifices, conveying a low-grade horror, as do armless nudes, echoing the Thalidomide crisis of the 50’s and 60’s, (a drug banned in the U.S. and Europe for causing birth defects). The work intimates a foreboding of advanced technology’s effects on the corporeal (female) experience as ‘self’ threatened or undermined by abstract, pernicious and uncontrollable paternal forces. Coded After Lovelace, a group show displays related aesthetic and ethical concerns expressed in a variety of guises, presented by seven artists who have been both forerunners in the use of art and technology as well as some of its most current and prolific practitioners. The show’s title references Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engin.LillianSchwartzAmongst this group of artists are significant pioneers whose explorations paved the way for the ubiquity with which media-generated art is currently embraced. Lillian Schwartz’s large projected videos show a variety of work created over a 40+ year time-span; the earliest of which show crude digital geometric animations that merge with bio-cellular structures speaking to a prescient ‘singularity’ writ large. Schwartz, an employee at Bell Labs for 30+ years was given rare access to a state-of-the-art lab to explore and collaborate in the use of digital imagery and sound. One can see the progression of improvement in both the technology as well as Schwartz’s understanding of possibilities and her own facility with it’s applications, particularly in the recent Tacit Expressions, an explosively lush, hypnotic, colorful graphic 3-D experience that speaks to the elegance of technology as a transcendent cosmic art form.
Arleen Schloss - A.E. Bla Bla Bla In a related manner Arleen Schloss, known for hosting 80’s performance/techno jams, shows documentation of her ambitious interdisciplinary opera for Ars Electronica Vienna in 1986, A.E. Blah, Blah, Blah. With a large collaborative cast, Schloss humorously plays with language, in her iconic use of the alphabet, and seeks high and low ground in this mixture of performance, video projection, and audio. The documentation of this work generates a kind of joyful dissonance out of abstract components at a time when technology’s fusion with performance was still a relative novelty.
Carla Gannis -Non-Facial Recognition Project claudia-hart-caress
Of a younger generation Carla Gannis’s recent video Non-Facial Recognition Project uses uploaded selfies from the artist’s Facebook newsfeed. In this constantly shifting piece, faces are segmented, stretched, and extruded, morphing seamlessly to reveal hidden biologies as well as collaged masks of variants on bling-y celebrity-style personae. In a related manner, Claudia Hart’s Caress shows a white computer-generated reclining female figure segmented into thirds and echoing classical forms of ancient Greco-Roman and late 19th century statues; the idealized mythic female form now a ghostly robotized image subtly sweeping her arm across a smooth plasticized body. In both of these, animated excesses contrast and compliment the static horror of Lassnig’s paintings; it feels part of a grounded late 20th and early 21st century continuum stretching back to Warhol.

Coursing though these and other works in ‘Coded’ are themes that pose concerns relevant to the philosophical underpinnings of our technologically advanced society; whether such resources are our tools, or are the multitudes, being subtly converted into ‘tools’ at the behest of larger unseen forces, is the world we now negotiate.

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BEFORE traverses physical and psychological manifestations of power and memory through late-capitalisms’ fault lines. With a weighty catalogue forward by curator, Niels Van Tomme, this short-run MFA thesis show at the Kitchen presents fresh takes on 21’st century anxieties from a diverse group of Parson’s grads.

Among the most intriguing is Alona Weiss’s Negative Space, a performative video in which the artist uses herself in varying poses and movements that either align with or play against, her projected drawings of buildings and statues. These cartoonish images are sketches of Israeli monuments and memorials commemorating a plethora of tragic events most occurring before Weiss’ s birth. In using herself as a stand-in for a younger generation’s interface with these sculptural tributes, this work calls attention to the fleeting nature of memory and meaning in the public sphere.

In another work, Extract, David Connolly’s podium teleprompter ­- the type used for speeches-given by government and corporate officials- shows cascading text projected on its glass plate; revealing the disquieting aspects of how instruments of public communication are often used to distort and undermine those it portends to serve.

These are just two of BEFORE’s 16 artists, who utilize subtle as well as provocative strategies for merging meaning with cultural critique. This is a show that arouses a viewer’s curiosity, making it well worth a visit.

Charlemagne_ Palestine

I met Charlemagne Palestine after attending his book signing at Electric Arts Intermix in December and went to his opening a few days later at Sonnabend. It was nice that we had mutual friends and even better that his process intersects with my own vis-a vis a personal bodily engagement. A trio of video installations: Ritual Dans La Vide, Motions x 24 and Cemetery Trio, blend lo-tech, fleeting imagery with bellowing sonic rants and architectural meanderings. I was drawn into his winsome world of empty rooms, resting places (cemeteries) and rides (Coney Island’s Cyclone). The technical equipment made friendly with his fetish-y objects and fabric, it’s a go-to; worth the effort before the show closes Feb 1. He’s performance history and it’s the real deal.