Monday, March 15, 2010

Performance as Art

I've always had a rather troubled relationship with Performance Art.   I think it stems from my background as a modern dancer and choreographer and then working in theatre as both an actor and a director.  When I was a choreographer back in the 70s in Colorado Springs, one of the things I keep doing was to add text that the dancers would speak to certain pieces.  That's why I was thrilled to do a performance workshop with Joe Goode and his fabulous performance company.

But when  it's pure performance art,  made by people who have no training in movement and theatre, I get uneasy and bored quickly.  Maybe because I'm really a bossy director/playwright at heart and have spent too many years in that environment.  Maybe it's me, but watching people having sex with themselves is not really that interesting.  Of course it is more conceptual than most dance-theatre related performance, this I understand.

One performance piece that I had no qualms about was last year at NadaDada Motel.  Andrea Daerice Juillerat was across the hall from my Motel Variations installation, with a piece called the Sugar Lady.  Andrea made this huge dress that was attached to the walls of the room.  You walked into the room, mindful of the dress, and danced with her and she gave you a sugar cookie!  Even without any conceptual frame, it was a lovely experiential piece. 

That's why I pay attention to her posts on Facebook, which included this link.  I've never seen any of Marina Abramovic's performances, but do remember reading about them in one of my obscure theatre and performance journals.  Now MOMA is celebrating her work and the performance she gave there seemed right to me.  Sitting and waiting to see what would happen.  Although I do wish she had given herself some room to move in the piece, but that's just the way I am.

This story lead me to another one where my other performance hero Laurie Anderson is interviewing Abramovic!  It's an insightful peek at the works and minds of both women.  I'll just bet that one of Anderson's songs (Strange Angel) could have been the subconscious impetus to Opera Dreams.

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