When a performer spends several nights grinding his dick in your face for art, you want to find something good to say about the performance. It takes a lot of guts to put your junk out there, let alone create a seven part opus. That’s especially true in the case Neal Medlyn’s uneven performance marathon “Pop Star Series: The 2015 Emerald Edition,” which ran over the course of three days at the American Realness festival. Throughout the course of his pop-star based series, I watched Medlyn’s dick fly out of beaded candy briefs, hump a staircase, and air grind through saggy white underwear.
“I do believe that there is cosmic synchronicity that we don’t understand,” Rachel Mason told me on a chilly night in her Long Island City studio. Eight years ago, she began researching an eighty-year-old newspaper story for her new opera “The Lives of Hamilton Fish”– the making of which, alone, is a long story.
Why continue to make art if you’re a 43-year-old with no savings and no time for relationships? Choreographer Miguel Gutierrez wrestles with those personal doubts in Age & Beauty Part 2: Asian Beauty @ the Warq Meeting or The Choreographer & Her Muse or &:@&.
Social capital is the fuel of the art world. Attending art openings, dance performances, and biennials is seen as glamorous and sexy. Studio visits feel like exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the artist. Actually financing the lifestyle, though, requires a lot of soul-killing administration: constant emailing, negotiation, and usually a bit of flattery.
Most of us hate it. A lot of us try to avoid it. And then there’s Ivo Dimchev, who uses his distaste for administration as inspiration for his disturbing three-person performance, Fest, at the Abrons Arts Center. The piece tells the story of Ivo Dimchev’s negotiations with a festival director and staff in Copenhagen, all of which devolve into power plays driven by sexual desire. It is an absurd and abject comedy that sits somewhere between total chronophobia and complete brilliance.
By the end of this weekend, the AFC staff will have seen a total of 15 out of 21 performances at the “American Realness” festival at the Abrons Art Center– which, so far, has been defined by a mix of blow jobs, spray blood, DIY aesthetics, and self-referential institutional critique. On the messier fringes of these performances is Keith Hennessy’s “Bear Skin”.
With this job, you don’t always have a chance to write up all the exhibitions you saw and loved, so for me, the 2014 year-end review is a Godsend. It gives me a chance to give a shout out to everything I saw and loved. And this year, there was an awful lot of it. May 2015 be this bountiful and more.