Kelly Kleinschrodt with Morgan Paros, theme and variations (for solo violinist and breast pump), Carter and Citizen, Culver City, September 10–October 22, 2011
I finally stopped by the new Carter & Citizen gallery, tucked in a pleasant corner of Culver City away from the main drags, to catch one of the daily performances that have been held there since the current show, Kelly Kleinschrodt’s distant already, opened over a month ago. Essentially, a recording of Kleinschrodt “playing” a breast pump—yes, a breast pump—is heard while Morgan Paros, a trained violinist, improvises a solo accompaniment.
The work’s loaded abstraction definitely speaks of John Cage and Fluxus, the latter of which has been an especially big influence on Kleinschrodt. Motherhood has been on the artist’s mind lately as she finds herself surrounded by the offspring of relatives and friends, and reaches an age where she has to make some motherhood decisions herself. The piece also touches on themes of embodiment and substitution, which have characterized Kleinschrodt’s still young body of work (she got her MFA from UCLA this year).
Paros’ performance was stunning and deeply felt. There were just a few people in the tiny room with her, another intense engagement with live musical performance, and we were all rather speechless in our admiration. Paros often closed her eyes and moved with the rhythms of the pump, channeling the noises through her body to compose her own music. It seemed that by playing the breast pump, Kleinschrodt was “playing” Paros as well; the musician seemed at times to become the infant, lulled by the soothing noises and the flow of nutrients.
The score was minimal, giving just a set of musical notes and a selection of moods the musician could choose from, so the depth and complexity of what Paros created was impressive indeed. Her commitment to this project has been unwavering, as she has performed in the gallery every day the show has been open, regardless of whether any visitors have been present. According to Kleinschrodt and gallerist Whitney Carter, because of this daily practice, the work has greatly evolved since the show opened. They are hoping to continue the project at additional venues.
I was so wrapped up in the performance, and in talking to Carter and Kleinschrodt, that I totally missed the rest of the exhibition, which includes a video installation and photographs. Luckily Geoff Tuck has some great text and images on his blog, which really help to fill in more of the concepts behind Kleinschrodt’s work.
You have two final chances to catch this performance at its current site: today from noon to 3pm, and tomorrow at the closing reception from 1 to 4pm. The reception will also feature special refreshments, including homemade breast milk cheese (!). Don’t miss it!