“Ephemeral Evidence” Alums Presenting Work

The closing performance of "Ephemeral Evidence." Photo by Maura Donahue

The closing performance of “Ephemeral Evidence.” Photo by Maura Donahue

Back in April, Culturebot was invited to curate a week of events as part of Exit Art’s grand closing-down retrospective; our exhibit, “Ephemeral Evidence,” granted one-day performance residencies to a series of artists, and ended in a phenomenal bash featuring Yves Klein art wrestling, a Long Table, and a food performance. Anyway, I got to thinking about this because at least three of the artists we presented are making work in the next few weeks.

Last night, I caught Arturo Vidich’s The Daedalus Effect and other dilemmas at the Invisible Dog, where it’s being presented off-site by New York Live Arts. The full response will be be coming next week from someone else, but in brief, you have one more chance to see it tonight, and I highly recommend you do. Wandering around the space, trying to ensure that I didn’t get in the way (or nailed by) one of Arturo’s contraptions, I couldn’t help but reflect on the dramatic difference between the work he was doing and most of the work I saw during festival season: APAP and its attendant festivals present a lot of work that–no matter how unconventional–seems to share a certain quality of consumability. They may seem weird to traditional audiences…but they’re not too weird. Narrative heavy and entertaining, they more often than not seem to want to read into a traditional performing arts discourse. Arturo, in contrast, seems like he couldn’t care less. It’s abstract, conceptual, physical; it has weaknesses and embraces them–projects them, almost–playing out as a sort of hot, chaotic mess. He demonstrates a willingness to take performance somewhere most of the work hitting the market during January doesn’t, and that’s a fantastic thing to get to see.

Another of the “Ephemeral Evidence” artists, Aretha Aoki, will be presenting her solo choreographic work as part of a shared evening (with Benjamin Kimitch) at Danspace Project Feb. 14-16. Aoki, who just won plaudits for her work with Emily Johnson at PS 122’s COIL 2013, has been exploring the nature of the solo for some time–that was what she worked on with us at Exit Art, in fact–and has apparently developed her solo-about-making-a-solo, Las Gravitas, into an exploration of the aesthetic questions raised by the form, creating “a space where fact and fiction and certainty and the unknown meet, mingle and sometimes collide.”

And Rebecca Davis–who presented a beautiful durational performance at Exit Art, in which dancers spent hours transferring evidence of their footsteps onto a massive piece of paper–is presenting Jan. 31-Feb. 1 as part of HERE’s Culturemart 2013. I’m less clear of Restless Nest‘s relationship to what Davis was working on at Exit Art, but there’s a certain thematic similarity between her piece there and a work, combining dance and sculpture, that explores “concepts of stability and mutability.”

Anyway, on a personal level it’s quite exciting to have the chance to watch and interact with artists creating work over a long period of time. One of the things we detest most about criticism is its consumption-oriented Consumer Reports quality–the idea that our role is primarily to go see something and comment on it. As Andy likes to say, contemporary work tends to be defined by the shared qualities of “investigation and interrogation.” The performance, such as it is, is merely a document–and often an imperfect one–of a long process, and much of what critical horizontalism is about is reimagining the critic’s relationship to such work. So I think we’re all excited to get to revisit all of these artists–and the work of our other partners, in the future–to see where they’ve gone and where they’re going.

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