Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fuse at the VAG: Part Deux

Babel Tower: Yves Klein Speaks! Cabbage Babbles!

We headed up to the third floor to see the Yves Klein lecture by Anne Walsh and Chris Kubick of Oakland California. I'll come out by saying that I don't like "performed" or even "performative" lectures, even though this was not billed as either of those. I thought power point had brought about the death of the lecture in a performance context, but obviously I was wrong. Walsh and Kubick have some great ideas. They hire professional psychic mediums to take readings from the works of dead artists. Today's dead artist was Yves Klein. We see slides of the work that the mediums read. We see slides of the mediums and hear sounds bytes of the women channeling Yves Klein, although they are hard to hear because of the party atmosphere bleeding through into the room. It's a shame this event wasn't presented in the context of its own evening. I would have enjoyed it, even with the burden of my prejudice.

More LIVE5: Yves Klein Speaks! Photo set

Next, we went to the Hedda Cabbage show by Randy Lee Cutler, which due to bad planning was programmed at the same time as the Yves Klein lecture. We didn't have tickets, but I snarled "press" and the man let my friend and I sit down with the dozen or so people at the table. The rest of the audience had to stand. Being divided into the haves and have-nots was a strong part of this piece, although not really addressed in the text. Cutler/Hedda/Cutler performed a cooking show/didactic speech on a Mulligan stew of topics. Two trays of hors d'oeuvres came around--blintzes with smoked salmon and cream cheese and parmesan tuilles with dollops of creme fraîche, truffle oil, and sautéed mushroom bits made by Lazy Susan catering company (I assume from the napkins). The most interesting part of Cabbage's talk was the riff on mushrooms connected by mycelium like an organic Internet enveloping the earth. The mushroom's ability to absorb and remediate radiation gives us hope of some day cleaning up the mess we've made of the planet.

More LIVE5: Hor d'Oeuvres Photo set

Meanwhile, back at "In Pursuit of Happiness", things had taken a darker turn. Mars and Firth-Eagland lay head to head on the floor with their feet in opposite directions.

They had wrapped the outside of he entire table with plastic, probably to keep the audience from eating the cakes within. Mars was lifting a piece of cake to her lips hesitantly. She looked as though the sight of it was making her sick but there was still some compulsion to eat it. A large layer cake was perched on a plate on her stomach. She watched it moved up and down with her breathing. Firth-Eagland looked like she was in a drugged-out haze. Suddenly the table of fine gateaux didn't look so appetizing any more.

In Pursuit of Happiness was beautiful in it complexity. It was as if Alice had gone through the looking glass as a mature woman and found herself at yet another bizarre tea party. A decade's worth of celebratory cakes read like a compressed history of special occasions in these women's lives. Why do we mark special occasions with a sugar high, a celebration of sweetness and excess? Because we can, I guess.

The tension between inviting the audience in and keeping them out was palpable. This is the tension I've been feeling tug through out the LIVE festival. If we make it exclusive, will they come? If we make in inclusive will they stay at home? (I was sorry to miss the finale of "In Pursuit of Happiness", so I hope to hear about it before the end of the festival, or see it here on the blog.)

More LIVE5: Tanya Mars Photo set

This isn't quite the end of the LIVE blog babble, since there are many more photos and video to come and I will be reporting at the RSVP event at Gastropod tonight organized by Germaine Koh.

Lori Weidenhammer

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