Realness Roundup: Trash Is Fierce, Unreal, Zombie Aporia and (M)imosa

Heather Lang and Eleanor Bauer. Photo by Ian Douglas

A whole lot of real exists in The Heather Lang Show By Eleanor Bauer And Vice Versa Trash Is Fierce Episode 2: Destiny’s Realness, and that’s a good thing. Smart, vital and spontaneous, Eleanor Bauer and Heather Lang host an insightful infomercial unpacking “realness”, which the audience experiences both live and on a television screen. The dynamic characters work in the business of connecting people to one’s “spirit product” in a direct and endearing style.

Wearing recycled materials (Lang, in a stiff dress of magazine pages and Bauer, wrapped in flowing layers of plastic bags), the two pontificate on the couch and riff about inner-light, the evils of capitalism and repurposing trash to make somethingness out of nothingness. After showcasing each product in the style of a roadshow, audience members call the 800 number for the spirit product, which is then lovingly presented to the caller by Lang or Bauer.

While the talk show format makes watching the full performance on screen possible, Trash Is Fierce should be seen in a room full of people, it’s live-ness crucial. Bauer cracks her character just once on Thursday, slumping into the couch. She cups her mouth laughing, the moment fresh for a show about realness and unifying in its honesty. In the end, Bauer and Lang remind their viewers to be awake in the world by literally holding up a compact mirror. They also remind everyone that “Trash Is Fierce!” which the audience repeats with gusto. If we are lucky they’ll bring us another episode.

Michael Hart’s photography exhibition, Unreal, with text by Ryan Tracy packs years of life and art moments into a mosaic of roughly 200 images. During the opening Thursday in the Abrons Arts Center, several of Hart’s subjects present at the show informally identified their images pointing and telling anecdotes. The subjects recalled Hart’s captured moment, at times clarifying whether the shot was real or staged. Those live conversations illuminated Tracy’s text, “In the end, the body is what we have and what we use to make “the world” and with which we remember it. Real or staged. Live or performed.” The subjects made clear that those moments were both – lived and performed.

Eight short pieces compose Daniel Linehan’s Zombie Aporia performed by Linehan, Thibault Lac and Salka Ardal Rosengren in the Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater Friday. During the first section, the performers rhythmically repeat the phrase “The music is the background for the dance” although for Linehan, the music is truly created by the dance.  The trio generates a soundtrack of music with the body through sustained monotone vocalizations, repeated words and percussive footsteps resulting from the given movement. For one song, Lac applies pressure with his hands to Rosengren’s throat and stomach to manipulate the force of her throaty tune. The execution provides a physical image of that which is heard. The exacting, often mechanical sequences cast a distance between the audience and the performers. This distance extends even in the moments during which the three get physically close to the audience, stiffly moving through the crowd to create formations dictated by a computer screen.

(M)imosa/Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M) on Friday in the Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater employ a raw and layered approach to reveal the possible identities of (M)imosa. Story upon story, song upon song Cecilia Bengolea, Francois Chaignaud, Marlene Monteiro Freitas and Trajal Harrell unravel the identity of (M)imosa. The spectacle swinging from glow-in-the-dark club moments, to Stravinsky, to a crowd-pleasing rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights successfully disorients and then settles as Harrell discusses authenticity through a story about the situations in which one should bring the real fancy handbag out, versus the times when the fake is the better choice. Echoing the sentiment he also suggests that in terms of realness, there is a time to be vulnerable and a time to keep one’s real to oneself.

American Realness continues through January 15 at the Abrons Arts Center. Tickets $15.


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