"Weird Woman", Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE
at Brooklyn is Burning
at Brooklyn is Burning
I was invited by curators Andres Bedoya and Sarvia Jasso to be a part of this year's Brooklyn is Burning event, which took place last night at PS1 Contemporary Art Center. I have to say that it ended up being one of the most emotionally charged art events I have ever attended.
Brooklyn is Burning took place in one of the large galleries on PS1's third floor--on top of Christian Marclay's floor installation, 2822 Records. Eight video projectors were set up so that during the screening at 4:00 pm, each video could be seen in multiples of 8. This allowed viewers to spread around the room, look in all directions, and be surrounded by images and sounds. I liked it.
Every Woman, © Narcissister
Photo from her website.
The screening was exciting, with sexy and surprising performative video works that often had musical components. (Videos by Theo Adams, Andres Bedoya, Brice Dellsperger, Juan Pablo Echeverri, Erica Eyres, Kathryn Garcia, Kylie Lockwood, Narcissister, Julia Oldham, Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Lior Shvil.) Narcissister's piece "Every Woman", an awesome and sexy reversed strip tease in which the artist extracted articles of clothing from her orifices, was one that I thought about a lot afterward and wanted to see again. Luckily, you can watch it on her website, in the video section. I can't get the song "I'm Every Woman", which served as the soundtrack of this piece, out of my head.
Lior Shvil's video documentation of Unser Stuckeln Arbiet, in which the artist turns an Israeli mortar weapon into an auto-erotic spanking device, was deeply unsettling and funny at the same time. Bits of the video were interspersed throughout the screening, keeping us on our toes. Co-curator Andres Bedoya had a video in the screening in which he created a giant curtain of hair over a beautiful museum door in Bolivia using long-haired ladies as his material. Gorgeous and creepy.
Video projection during Try Cry Try's performance.
Four performances followed the screening. Try Cry Try's spectacular, glittery, noisy musical performance was first. Georgia Sagri came next, pretending that she (Georgia) was unable to make it to the event, and was being replaced by a strange, slinky character named Jane (but who was actually Georgia). She strutted around repeating mysteriously that she had an announcement to make and that her name was Jane.
Georgia was followed by Ann Liv Young, who gave a provocative and confrontational performance, as her character Sherry, in which she viciously insulted Georgia, peed in a bowl and spilled it, stripped and masturbated in Georgia's face, joked and sang and talked about whales, and got into a shouting match with several worked-up people in the audience (especially, as you might imagine, Georgia). I can't deny that the aggressive and raw nature of Ann's performance did indeed rile everyone up and serve as a strange kind of focal point; however, I don't yet know how to wrap my head around the attack on a fellow artist. (Update: two responses to the events of the night--Sherry's video response and Sarvia Jasso's response.)
During Ann's performance, PS1 cut the power. As a result, Morty Diamond's brilliant performance was seriously compromised. He performed in the dark, with no sound. Something interesting happened, though. The audience rallied around Morty, crowded in and illuminated him with their cell phones and ipods while he performed, and a laptop served as the impromptu sound system. Morty led a moving call and response piece in the nude that was focused on an intimate look at his body and his questions about gender. During the performance, one could feel the warm and crackling energy of the crowd. Even though I couldn't see Morty very well, the performance gave me goosebumps. It was definitely an emotional climax of the night.
PS1 never announced why they pulled the plug on the event. Artist Michael Bilsborough wrote to me today, "[PS1's] censorship is inexcusable, but more so hypocritical, given that Marina Abramovic was signing her book on that same day". I think that's a really interesting point. (Update: see Michael's piece Too in the Pink for his expanded/updated views on this issue; see PS1's position here; see Claudia La Rocco's response to PS1's position here.)
After Morty's performance, a number of the artists and viewers walked over to LIC Bar where we tried to figure out what in the world had happened, and how we felt about it. I sensed that there was a lot of camaraderie among the artists gathered at the bar, and I had some wonderful conversations. I think the events of the night will take a while for me to understand and make sense of, but I look forward to the questions and conversations that will come out of it.
Photos by Eric (except Narcissister's "Every Woman".)
Updates (in chronological order, more or less):
- Co-curator Andres Bedoya's statement about the events on his blog
- Blurb in Gothamist
- Link to Gothamist in Huffington Post
- Art Fag City's take on the situation
- Claudia La Rocco's thoughts about the event at WNYC.org
- Too in the Pink by Michael Bilsborough
- Co-curator Sarvia Jasso's response on Art Fag City
- PS1's position on Art Fag City
- Claudia La Rocco's response to PS1's position on WNYC.org
- Sherry's response to the events at PS1
- An interview with Ann Liv Young about the show
- Lights Out at PS1 in the New York Observer