From Operas to Activism: Creative Capital Convenes

by Paddy Johnson on August 2, 2013 Reviews


The Propeller Group
The Propeller Group wants to rebrand communism for prime time. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign with $10,500,000 goal million goal to do this, which if reached will allow them to air their commercial promoting “new communism” during next year’s Super Bowl. As of this writing, they’ve raised $164.

“We the people solemnly pledge that everyone is equal,” say the voices in the Kickstarter trailer. The set is minimal, white and made of cardboard, while the cast, also in white, hold frozen poses. There’s a feeling of earnestness to the video, but one also gets the sense that the whole thing might just be a joke. After all, the new communism logo bears a striking resemblance to an asshole. Before we see the flag, another voice pipes in, “That equal opportunity is had by all”. Communism it seems, look a lot like democracy.

Faye Driscoll
Until seeing Faye Driscoll’s performance, I’d never been taken with tennis balls. On stage, Faye Driscoll and her dance partner Jesse Zaritt fastened these things just above their knees and under their tights to achieve a variety of effects. In an early part of the performance, the balls are merely a fashion choice; Driscoll and Zaritt frantically adjust their clothing, and the balls get jostled as they do so. In another scene, after they’ve tarred and feathered themselves, the balls make their knees look like the enlarged joints of bird legs.

Degenerate Art Ensemble
This husband-and-wife team seems to have been commissioned or awarded by just about every organization out there—Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, Arts International, the International Theatre Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation to name a few—and it’s not hard to see why. Much like Robert Wilson, an obvious influence, their slick, non-linear performances are bold and visually stunning. For example, in one clip, we see a women with a white painted face and dressing in white fur leggings as if a beast is circled by her chorus. In another, all white fur dances within the neon lights The work is inspired by punk, architecture, myths, comics, Asian culture and, of course, contemporary art.

Wakka Wakka Productions
With Wael Shawky’s Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo currently touring the globe, and smaller, historically-based restagings cropping up around the country, Wakka Wakka’s puppet performance “Made in China” is nothing if not timely. Inspired by the Chinese labor camp laborer who recently had his letter and cry for help found in a box of halloween decorations in Kmart, this story centers around an eccentric, middle-aged woman and her unlikely relationship to her Chinese expat neighbor.

“We figured, if a four inch balloon with eyes can scare off birds, maybe a ten foot balloon could ward of Western civilization.” So begins Postcommodity’s presentation, which focused on the collective’s project “The Repellent Fence”, a series of monumental balloons with outsized eyes hung at the Arizona-Mexico border. The piece is meant to encourage respectful discussion and speak towards the indigenous migration of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which is situated on a border crossing between southern Arizona and northern Sonara, Mexico.

The exact problems of the Tohono O’odham Nation were a little hard to figure out from the presentation, but the project seemed like an appropriate note to end on regardless. Much like the ambitions of the Shrimp Boat Project, Postcommodity sets its sights on addressing problems that may be larger than art can reasonably solve. That approach isn’t always one I’d advocate for, but given the amount of actual change Creative Capital grantees have achieved, perhaps outsized ambitions are in order.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: