I love the idea of mashing up visual art, music and dance. Just last month I enjoyed a similar show (Stripe Tease) at the Walker. So I was thrilled to get walk-up tickets to the first of the Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance. I brought my favorite 10-year old date.
There were things we liked about the show, things we didn’t like as much and things that confused us. But we talked about it the whole way home and I think that’s a win for a gallery that “encourages work that challenges the status quo in contemporary art.”
We liked the art. There was just enough splash of color and the geometric shapes led to a big discussion of CNC machining. The make-do stage and hanging art left a feel like we were in another world or planet. Something almost retro and Twilight Zone about it. And the music. Admittedly participation from Brute Heart was what got me through the door. The music was very subtle and very much in the background but a huge component.
There is a Beckettian theme through the show, it starts when two performers discuss the body and the impact of a computer job on the body. It’s a circular discussion punctuated by accents, silly voices and the slowing of the bodies on stage. At one point the questioner asks how the interrogated knows she has a body. Because you said I did, was the exasperated answer. They could have been waiting for Godot. It was funny and poignant; something even my date has experienced—the giving over of power to the computer and experiencing the unintended consequence of disembodied feelings.
Then there was a story of a spring break in Italy and ghosts that may have been ghosts or may have been a figment of lucid dreams. Again very funny and involved more performers. In that segment the story and the movement really complimented each other.
Then there were some segments where the microscope lifted too high for me. Commentary on climate change, insurance and health care seemed like too much preach without the nuance of art. Now that being said, we enjoyed the movement and the dance throughout. My date liked the repetition of movement and the proximity of the dancers.
I liked the performers’ use of eyes. Weird in a dance to focus on something that by definition isn’t going to be moving much but there was a scary amount of passion in most of the eyes on stage. It draws you in and keeps you on point, like a good teacher. Added to that intensity is the knowledge that the show is interactive. (My date was asked to read a few lines.) When you command that much attention you depend on nuance and subtlety.
The show ended with a final speech that harked back to Beckett about “I’m good at this, I love this,” which I think speaks to the idea that we do what we can when we can. The rest isn’t indifference but detachment based I assume on capacity.
Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance is showing March 28, 29, April 2, 3 and 4. The free shows are sold out but some spaces are reserved for walk-up audience members. We arrived at 7:00 and had no trouble getting in.