Native Strategies journal launch, featuring a performance by Jmy James Kidd, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Hollywood, August 11, 2011
It’s been an exciting week for performance art in our city. Following last Tuesday’s bar-setting event curated by The Action Bureau at Human Resources, LACE hosted a launch party for the Native Strategies journal, published as a complement to the Native Strategies series of curated performances.
Put together by the hard working team of Brian Getnick, Zemula Barr, and Molly Sullivan, the first issue of Native Strategies covers a series of performances that took place in the spring under the rubric of So Funny It Hurts. Artists Alice Cunt, Kale Likover, Nathan Bockelman, Lauren Weedman, Asher Hartman, Paul Outlaw, and Curt LeMieux were asked to present performances highlighting the complex uses of humor as a tool in their work. The journal both documents and expands on these performances through photographs, substantial essays written in response to the performances, and in-depth interviews with the artists.
As a big believer in the value of documentation and published discourse, as well as someone who worries about the perennial lack thereof in Los Angeles, I can’t overstate how important journals like this are to our scene. So many ideas and responses circulate through the community in the form of conversations, informing the practices of artists and inspiring occasional essays that actually get published. This is great and all, but the ephemerality of conversation limits its impact to those who are talking in the here and now. More publication and dissemination (ideally) helps information reach artists and scholars outside of our scene, as well as future generations.
The Native Strategies team plans on curating a cycle of performances and publishing an accompanying journal twice a year for the next five years. That leaves a lot of room for different artists to come in and different writers to give their perspectives as well. The first issue is a strong one, with information-packed interviews (including one done with Bockelman by yours truly) and quality essays. Be sure to pick up your copy, a relative bargain at $10 plus tax, at LACE. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy.
Thursday night’s festivities included a tantalizing preview of the next, as-yet-unnamed performance cycle, which will revolve around LA’s provocative and perhaps under-recognized community of dance-based artists. Jmy James Kidd, who runs the Pieter PASD performance art space in Lincoln Heights, presented an intensely felt, expressionistic, abstract dance work.
Kidd’s untitled piece seemed to consist of several different “acts” that were fairly distinct from one another; one fairly harrowing act was performed with her mouth wide open, as though in a scream. The piece was also set to a soundtrack that was sampled from recordings of events that had taken place at Pieter and other venues; thus, there was a lot of ambient noise as well as assorted music.
Strategic miscues were given in an apparent effort to keep the audience off-balance. The soundtrack opened with the voice of someone saying that beer and chips were available, putting us in reception space when we were in fact, in performance space. Similarly, about halfway through, Kidd herself announced that it was time for a break and people could go use the restroom or get a drink—but then she kept right on with her performance, and no one moved.
Kidd was joined for one act by dancer Nick Duran, who glided into the arena unannounced, dressed very period Gene Kelly in white t-shirt and tight jeans. The two engaged in a duet together that was pretty and almost like a Hollywood musical, in stark contrast to the Pina Bausch-like moves that Kidd had been experimenting with on her own.