This year's Performa Biennial has one week of programming left, so this is your chance to catch the last of it. This week's highlights range from a beerfest to rare revivals of groundbreaking performance works. Our guide to Performa 11's final work below.
MIKA ROTTENBERG AND JON KESSLER:SEVEN
Nicole Klagsbrun Project Space, 526 West 26th Street. Thusday through Saturday, in 37 minute cycles, 2 – 8 pm. Free.
Mika Rottenberg and John Kessler combine surreal bodily video with kinetic sculpture in an “intricate laboratory that channels body fluids and colors into a spectacle on the African savannah.” Meanwhile, a “Chakra Juicer” will store sweat dripping from the performers. I have no idea what this means.
Still, the two performers seem well-matched. Rottenberg’s expertise in fleshy mechanics finds a natural affinity with sweaty performers, certainly. Her focus on the body and the assembly line is similar to that of Jon Kessler, creator of increasingly political, extravagantly complex machines which often serve to create small, intentionally close-cropped videos.
LIAM GILLICK AND ANTON VIDOKLE: A GUIDING LIGHT (PART II)
Performa Hub, 233 Mott Street. Friday, November 18, 5 — 6 pm. Free with reservation.
Not going to last year’s Shanghai Biennale is feeling like more and more of a mistake. Last year, artist Liam Gillick and all-purpose art human Anton Vidokle created a film for the Biennale that was one part curatorial statement, one part theory, and one part structural analysis of a 1952 episode of A Guiding Light - the soap opera. The Performa event tomorrow manages to complicate things even further, billing itself as “part-screening, part-critique, and part-staging for the ‘film’.” We’re not really sure what that means, but it should be smart – Gillick and Vidokle have a reputation for that – and it should be fun – the ‘actors’ involved include Gao Shiming, last year’s Shanghai Biennale curator, and Tim Griffin, the former editor of Artforum. This should be good.
ROBERT ASHLEY: THAT MORNING THING
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, Saturday, 8 — 9:30 pm; Sunday, 3 — 4:30 pm; Sunday, 8 — 9:30 pm; Monday, 8 — 9:30 pm. $30.
Robert Ashley operas are hard to watch. Usually comprised of a long, monotonous monologue backed by space-agey sounds, the work seriously tests most viewers’ patience. Those who weather the storm, of course, are amply rewarded; That Morning Thing is a legendary piece of experimental performance, fitting into Ashley’s general method of characters-outside-society singing sounds-outside-music (hat-tip to Alex Waterman of Artforum for that note). You could be forgiven for not knowing that: according to Performa, the opera has only been presented three times since its debut in 1967, which makes this staging particularly overdue. When you consider that Ashley’s works were often crafted specifically to leave room for reinterpretation and revision, it seems all the more so.
Of course, as to what exactly it is that may or may not be boring you, we’re missing specifics – something to do with the social-political climate of the 1960s, and, uh, something something. This is, of course, exactly the problem Performa’s restaging is trying to fix.
GUY MADDIN, TALES FROM GIMLI HOSPITAL: REFRAMED
Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 165 West 65th Street. Friday and Saturday nights, each starting 7 and 9 pm, $25 in advance, $30 at the door.
Fans of Guy Maddin, AFC included, won't want to miss the Performa-commissioned restaging of Maddin's 1988 Tales from the Gimli Hospital. Maddin's darkly humorous cult style, characterized by sexuality, cliche, and references to Weimar Republic expressionism, will be enhanced by a live performance. This will include a new, half-sung, half-spoken narration, written by Maddin, and musical score, written and performed by a group of musicians which showcases an Icelandic group.
NICOLINE VAN HARSKAMP: ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Performa Hub, 233 Mott Street. Ongoing daily 12 – 7 pm. Free.
If you get a chance to visit the Performa center, see Nicoline van Harskamp's Any Other Business. A tireless researcher, she has been known to compile scripts from thousands of archive materials; in Any Other Business, van Harksamp uses clips of public debates to stage a scripted conference with no plot, but narrative threads. This sounds structurally similar to the work of Liz Magic Laser, but it's a little more abstract; instead of directly referencing individuals, van Harskamp heavily edits dialogue so that actors portray “lots of different people” at once.
ERIC STEEN: BREW PUB
Performa Hub, 233 Mott Street. Friday, November 18, 6 — 10 pm; Saturday, November 19, 6 — 10 pm. $20.
All you can drink local beer at the Performa Hub. Friday and Saturday nights. Enough said.
EVE ESSEX AND DAVID GUTKIN: EXPERIMENTS IN NOTATION
Performa Hub, 233 Mott Street. Saturday, 1 — 2 pm. Free.
Not only will this artists' class shed more light on the work of Robert Ashley and experimental performance, but it also sounds like it will tie together much of what we've seen this month. This segment of Eve Essex and David Gutkin's ongoing series on experimental performance will highlight Robert Ashley and the ONCE group. After discussing musical notation and performance conventions, participants will be encouraged to make their own experimental notations.
PERFORMA 11 GRAND FINALE, MALCOLM MCLAREN AWARD
Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery. Monday, November 21, 9 pm — 2 am. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Cash only.
Who will win the Malcolm McLaren prize for the most innovative performance under 40? Attend the award ceremony to find out.
For the full schedule of Performa events throughout the week, click here.