Sunday, December 9, 2018

In an octopus's garden at Performance Space New York

Performance Space New York
introduced its new Octopus series
with an afternoon of performance
curated by Gillian Walsh.


Octopus: Inverted Jester
Organized by Gillian Walsh
Presented by Performance Space New York
Saturday, December 8, 2018

Performance Space New York has a cooler way for us to think about activated networks--not spider webs this time but, instead, an octopus with arms stretching, flexing, rippling and sensing in multiple directions, each of these arms a nimble outpost of the central brain. Wouldn't you like to have what is, essentially, nine brains with which to navigate this mad, mad world?

For the first of Performance Space New York's four, artist-curated Octopus programs, dance artist Gillian Walsh ran with this concept and produced a smart show entitled Inverted Jester, a name that, for me, immediately called up the image of that jester's many-tentacled fool's cap as another octopus-like thing in our universe. And sure as can be, Walsh's many-tentacled program also invoked the historic role of jester as provocative wiseass.

We had Davon Rainey, in barely-there sparkles and stilettos, lip syncing Björk ("Bachelorette") and Nina Simone ("I Loves You, Porgy"), both songs supercharged by the blend of race and gender in one glamorous, sinewy body. It was enough of an exacting performance at a comfortable distance from Rainey's audience, but when he strode into the aisle between seats, a viewer could clearly see, close up, the intelligent complexity of his body, especially his face, in every moment and movement.

Sophia Cleary's website describes her as "a genreless, childless & interdisciplinary artist working with jokes, video, dance, music, and more," and I thank Walsh for making sure I can add Cleary's intense, aggressive weirdness to my long list of experiences in life. Our paths might not have crossed otherwise. Like electric coils wrapping ever more tightly around your sensibilities, her humor demands, and it dares, and then it delivers an unbelievable, nightmarish lap dance to someone you know.

The last Octopus arm I saw--I couldn't stay for Cherry Iocovozzi and Silver Cousler--was Lorelei Ramirez's stand-up act plus her Joy of Painting-style demo. For the latter, just imagine if the late Bob Ross had not been Bob Ross but, rather, a queer Latinx with a laptop loaded with Adobe Illustrator and a mind loaded with a sneaky kind of scary. As her website reveals, "my mother thinks I am possessed and I have accepted this as my only beautiful truth." Mom might know what she's talking about. I had to leave after Ramirez to go feed my cat and get a bite to eat before an evening show elsewhere, but I came away with a serious case of Adobe Illustrator-envy--that Brush Library!!--and I am not at all a visual artist.

Performance Space New York's Octopus is potentially fun and worth checking out if you like taking a chance on something unexpected. Future editions, all at 4pm include:

Saturday, February 23—organized by the Ethyl Eichelberger Committee
Saturday, March 23—organized by Richard Kennedy
Saturday, June 1—organized by Charlotte Brathwaite

For program details and ticketing for each show, click here.

Performance Space New York
150 First Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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