Sunday, March 19, 2006

Amina M. Cain's response to Re-Do It? Re-Presenting Bodies in Performance

I asked Amina Cain to write a response to the performances on Friday at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the symposium: Re-Do It? Re-Presenting Bodies in Performance.

Amina is a writer and co-curates (with Jennifer Karmin) the Red Rover Series of "readings that play with reading" at the Spareroom in Chicago. Amina teaches writing at Collumbia College in Chicago.



[From Amina Cain 3/18/06]

Last night [Friday 3/17/06] I attended the Feast of the Un/Re/Do/Able at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of its Department of Performance
Symposium. Before the event began I sat talking with a couple of friends and the question was raised (as it's been many times) about the point behind re-doing a performance and the current trend in approaching a performative work in this way. This question stayed in my mind throughout the night and as I engaged with the work I was seeing I began to think perhaps that the festival's un-re-doable focus allowed me to understand the history of these original performances a little better and to also understand where we are today in relation to them. I like the idea of looking at a live event as a place to move around in and inhabit with elements both marked and alien to their original modes.

The night began with Ellen Rothenberg's Soapbox, a very funny piece in which Rothenberg, dressed as a clown and projected onto the wall as she walked across the room ringing a bell, talked about the state of our nation through laundry detergent names and slogans such as Cheer, Tide, All, and Gain. Depressingly, her tone wasn't far from George Bush Junior's in the last State of the Union Address. Maybe that's what made Rothenberg's so funny.

One of my favorite pieces was Untitled (Dyketactics Revisited), a film made by Liz Rosenfeld in 2005 inspired by Barbara Hammer's Dyketactics from 1974. The performance description for the film in the festival's program reads: "Bodies move freely through an ambiguous urban utopia. Shot on 16mm film and digital video, allow yourself to be led through the space where bodies exist independent of social codes." I've never seen the original film, but Rosenfeld's version constructs a station where the city is as beautiful as the figures that exist within it and everything is warm and sensual. I was transfixed the entire time I watched it.

Apart from a few other filmed works most of the night was made up of live performances, though Mark Jeffery and S.I.R. worked with footage from documented performances. I really enjoyed We still love Marina and Ulay, even though they broke up a long time ago, in which Jo Amado and Isil Egrikavuk faced each other and pointed their index fingers so that they were almost touching and then when their fingers moved apart they found each other again. This piece created an empty, charged space and I was attracted to its small movement. The major moment of the night was of course Gretchen Holmes' unredoable version of Carolee Schneeman's 1965 Interior Scroll-- the words on her scroll dealt with the state of her own and Schneeman's pubic hair.

For the most part the work was strong, but to be expected in any type of festival situation there were some weak links. Forgiveness by Aimee Brown was so short and understated that I was confused when it was over. I appreciated her stated intention for mindfulness, but the performance felt almost insignificant. And though I liked watching Beatriz Albuquerque eat green and red jello in Green and Red, "a George Brecht score," it felt a bit insignificant too. Perhaps some moments resist being redone more than others? All in all, a fun night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brecht’s work attempted to make use of a minimal number of means to arrive at a mutual understanding with the audience. Since Fluxus event-scores could be performed in any setting, such as a public park, the idea of authorial presence within Brecht’s piece could easily be diluted. In addition, the performer of any Fluxus event-score could be anybody.

May 22, 2006 9:12 PM  

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