The setting is of a cold January night in New York City, where a lonely critic sits hunched over his chickenscratch notes when begins to shake in disturbing fashion the cracked rectangle of obsidian black glass at his elbow, simultaneously emitting a tinny sad trill of bell-like tinkling. Pick it up he does, swiping a finger from left to right across the distressingly lattice-worked bit of glass, and to his ear to hear the squawking voice of the editor. Where’s the report? he asks. On its way, replies the critic, but the notes are a mess! Deadlines are past! replies the editor. It’s hopeless! says the critic. Surely there’s a subject? squawks the box. Too much, is the reply, and not enough at once! How was the trade-show? asks the voice. Outgrown itself, is the reply, and continues: Ouroboros-like, it eats itself–a trade-show pretending it’s the festival itself that the trade-show is meant to feed. To which the editor responds: Surely there’s a story there!? To which the critic responds: One that everyone knows! But there’s art! rejoinders the apoplectic editor. Of a fashion, replies the despondent critic. Surely it’s diverse? the critic is asked. As the Oscars! he replies, sardonic. What are these people paid for then? asks the editor. The critic: Paid? The editor: Yes, who pays them? The critic: Where are they from?
It was an answer as much as a question.
Silence on the line. The discussion is at an end. Deadlines are past, repeats the editor, story’s due. The notes are shit, is the critic’s pathetic response. And there’s silence again.
The Brazilian assumes that the point is that, by taking similar (rather than dissimilar) narratives and collapsing them together in a confusing scenario, new meanings can emerge (they don’t). The Argentinian assumes that the point is that, if you provide the subjective back-stories for multiple films, new meanings can emerge (rather than humdrum social commentary). Theatrical devices are employed in the presentation of these rather conventional narrative theater pieces, which is why it’s so sad in the end: If only they’d known that instead of bothering to try to stage complicated filmic narratives, they could have just made (mediocre) films, everyone would have been happier!
“Забей на это дерьмо,” says Eisenstein. Alas, they don’t quite understand.
“Estúpido de mierda ruso,” says the Argentinian (according to Google Translate).
“Você não entende saudade,” says the Brazilian (according to Google Translate).
“Вы не понимаете, как сделатьхороший театр,” says Eisenstein (according to Google Translate). “Это не монтаж То есть просто рассказывать историю.”
But everyone who can’t read this exchange without Google Translate went home happy, because intercultural exchange happened.
Thursday past, or rather early, early morning Friday past: H. and B. wander into an LES top-shelf whiskey bar to meet C. and Other-B, who are curators. C. is dancing in lively fashion with Tat. A bear-hug is initiated with B. Flights are too early but deference must be paid. Welcome to the hyperjetlagged international performance art jet-set. Pleasantries are exchanged. Nominal discussions of art unfold. Old acquaintances rekindled in proper trade-show fashion. New acquaintances made. Email addresses exchanged. Others depart. C. and Tat are the first as needs must. The gate is dropped halfway and everyone smokes indoors. January in New York.
On 38 Young(er) Slovenian Singers
Recalling the day following the previous vignette, it was–at least in the estimation of one of our guests–beautiful. Carmina Slovenica, a Slovenian choral performance group, arrived at St. Ann’s Warehouse as part of the Prototype Festival. For a piece called Toxic Psalms. It’s quite lovely. It has to do with how people in a social situations defer to power. Wars in the Balkans are referenced, as are the Milgram Experiments. The chorus is invited to develop the piece, and the banality of influence takes over (the irony of deference to power thus lost). They produce a choreography worthy of a youthful imitation of Pina Bausch, happy to please a scenographic imitation of Robert Wilson.
The singing is good.
Saturday night and the intrepid correspondents, in need of release, sojourn down to the TriBeCa Grand for a party hosted by a certain Kunt. At which a surprising number of heterosexual males, incapable of grasping the subversive spelling of the host’s name, came in hopes of finding their way into some of the titular good by night’s end. Which was confusing to most others.
The dancing is fun.
A Joke, Part 2:
A woman not wearing pants walks onstage and tells a rape joke. For an hour. Two guys dressed as ancient Egyptians go onstage and do karaoke versions of a crazy mass murderer’s “I hate women” rants, as well as videos of young women worrying about their appearance.
Everyone agrees this is the best work anyone’s seen so far this week.
[The drummer awkwardly begins to rimshot, then doesn’t know what to do, and elects to smoke what we assume is tobacco.]
Setting: Late night, near the individuated bathroom stalls of an LES bar. One man holds a plastic bag containing a contraband substance. Along with another, he wanders into one such stall. The following is overheard:
Man 1: So what do we do with it?
Man 2: There’s really only three options, and I don’t see lighting it on fire as a good idea.
They pursue the remaining two options with equal aplomb.
Outside WMFU’s Monty Hall
Radiohole has minutes before completed a reprisal of Myth (or maybe meth), a text written by the late Tom Murrin. The event is a gloriously and disastrously marvelous, prompting questions such as: “Did he really just puke inside his box costume?” [yes]; “Did the constant slipping on food detritus distract from textual fidelity?” [possibly?]; and [this author’s favorite], “I’ve never seen this one before–which part did they fuck up? Because something was definitely fucked up there.”
Cigarettes alight outside Monty Hall (where the staff seem increasingly concerned about the sort of New York art-world riffraff permitted inside their fine establishment), B., a performer from whose costume crustacean-nethers audiences recently witnessed a green-jello roe being consumed, comments that, “This is like the dudes’ version of Untitled Feminist Show.” Which elicits a lengthy conversation about how best to present a marathon evening of Myth (or maybe meth) alongside Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show and, most lately, Straight White Male. The primary point of contention is the potentially best order in which to program said three shows.
And thus art was served.