Perform! Now!, organized by François Ghebaly, Marcus Civin, Dino Dinco, and Danielle Firoozi, Chinatown and the Los Angeles River, Saturday, July 31, 2010
Compared to last year’s concentrated blockbuster, this year’s installment of Perform! Now! felt decidedly more low-key, likely a result of the event being spread out over four days, with the energy and excitement levels dispersed accordingly. Disparate groups of people wandered through at disparate times, and there were some dull “in-between” periods of waiting for certain performances. Saturday’s portion, which ranged from 9am to 1am, felt more scattered than Friday night’s thankfully shorter session. The huge span of work presented meant that there were necessarily some duds—some one-liners, some turgid and overwrought melodramas, and some pieces that just didn’t live up to their promise. There were also, however, many good works and a few outstanding and memorable ones that would have been worth the price of admission alone.
New York–based Croatian artist Vlatka Horvat spent nine hours re-arranging a set of 50 chairs in the shallow waters of the LA River, within good viewing distance of the Fletcher Bridge. Fortune was very much with the project (which was washed out by rain last December) this time out, as it was blessed by a perfect sunny day and an ideal water level of just a couple of inches. The work was visually stunning as well as socio-geometrically provocative, as the chairs took on formations that recalled airplane layouts, interrogations, boardrooms, musical chairs, and the like. The steady and determined Horvat was entrancing to watch as she quickly moved the chairs from one improvised formation to the next (only the first and last formations were determined ahead of time). In addition to the art pilgrimage crowd, the project attracted many curious pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Julie Deamer of Outpost for Contemporary Art, who sponsored this project, was on the job passing out bottles of water and engaging in friendly discussion with all spectators. For more in-depth info, check out this great interview with Horvat and Deamer.
Critical mass was reached during Zackary Drucker’s highly anticipated 10:30pm performance at Human Resources. The glitterati came out in droves for this one, seeming to suddenly appear out of nowhere to converge on HR’s patio, making for really poor visibility and claustrophobic environs. Drucker’s brilliant and well-conceived performance blasted through all obstacles, however. It began with the screening of a video portraying Drucker as the fresh-scrubbed girl next door, surrounded by sunshine and greenery as she speaks directly to the viewer about being transgendered. This gave way to a spectacular live portion in which the artist worked a narcissistic drag-queen shtick at the same time that she completely deconstructed anti-queer biases and mercilessly “read” the tragically hip onlookers. Anyone who can make a rhythmic repetition of the phrase “I was raped and murdered” seem funny and campy is a twisted genius of the highest order. I’m not really doing this work enough justice though so please do check out Drucker’s website to have your mind properly blown.
Throughout the two days that I was at Perform! Now!, it was interesting to note that mirrors popped up quite a bit as a running theme. They appeared physically in Megan Daalder’s Mirror Box, Dorit Cypis’ take on Dan Graham’s Performer/Audience/Mirror, Micol Hebron’s hilarious restaging of 1970s vagina-gazing sessions, Lucas Murgida’s The Oracle (a phone booth-shaped vestibule encased in two-way mirrors), and Brendan Fowler’s high-volume car crash (okay, so that was just a pane of glass, not necessarily a mirror). Mirrors also manifested conceptually in the self-conscious and/or confrontational performative deconstructions of Emily Mast, Samuel Vasquez, Zackary Drucker, and Gustavo Herrera (who, like Drucker, made fun of the audience’s art-world pretensions). Whether this says anything about the current zeitgeist, I have no idea, but it certainly made for a thought-provoking leitmotif.
Enjoy the photo documentation to follow…