Friday, July 31, 2009

Scene report: Day nine

I cannot tell a lie: after a long workweek, finding the weather unexpectedly pleasant, I came very close to sitting out one of the biggest nights of the festival--and knew I would regret it if I did. Still, I made time to listen to this 1985 interview with the late Merce Cunningham and this one with John Cage from the same year on Fresh Air while working on a fresh batch of Self-Infringement instructions. It's pretty safe to say there would be no Infringement without these two fearless pioneers of Art Under the Radar, and I wish there was some way to salute them during the festival. So: "saaaaaaa-LUTE!," as they used to say on Hee-Haw.

After a quick stop at Rust Belt, I paid a quick return visit to Mrs. Squandertime, who was back in action after taking a night or two of rest. I see she has company in the window of 224 Allen now, too, in the form of a witty computer installation called eyeMacs (by another of my WoyUbu colleagues--represent, y'all!):



One window over is another cool-looking digital project whose name escapes me, but I'm told it's the work of 224's owner. There's an interactive component, and if I remember, I'll add more details about that here later:



I got to the Albright-Knox just in time to miss all of the Infringement festivities in Gusto at the Gallery, but I heard good reports from many people about the poetry and the dance. I did manage to make my way through the museum's two current exhibitions, one devoted to (allegedly) "subversive" work in the permanent collection and the other a lovely tribute to Ed Ruscha, another of those precursors who gave everybody else permission to do weird stuff in the name of Art. Walking around the upstairs galleries gave me a nice opportunity to think about how "subversive" work bubbles up from spaces like most of the other venues in BIF into mainstream cultural institutions like the AKAG about 20-30 years later, or doesn't, and how sometimes lately that process is sped up by a couple of decades. Some subversion gets forgotten after a good night's sleep, and some ends up accompanied by a child-friendly wall text in a major American museum. My tour of the show also gave me yet another chance to marvel at just how much money Matthew Barney makes for his often gorgeous, always completely hermetic jibberjabber. Plus, he gets to date Bjork!

While I saw no actual BIF work at the Albright, I consider the costumes of Euphraxia and Red Moon to be art objects in themselves, not so far off from Barney's elaborate getups. The dancers looked astounding in the bright lights just outside the museum's entrance. Because I am not David Lynch, I lack the ability to take a photo of them that captures the surreal glory of the moment:



Headed from the AKAG to Days Park for the first of three performances this weekend by Pyromance. I shot video of their fire dance, but haven't yet figured out how to upload it, so you'll just have to get to the park Saturday or Sunday to see them in action. (They promise a new show every night, so go early and often.) While waiting for them to set up, I ran down to La Tee Da to catch another snippet of Pho Malpica, which is shaping up to be the word-of-mouth hit of BIF09. I escorted the newly arrived cast of Car Stories to it, and then crossed paths with them again later during the aptly named Yet Another Cool Showcase at Nietzsche's. I was very happy that I got to catch ROJOMOJO's set: straightforward blues, an excellent country-flavored original (something about the grass being bluer on my side--I don't remember the chorus, but it was a damned catchy song), and covers of Marvin Gaye and James Taylor, all performed without a shred of rockstar pretense. Anybody who thinks Infringement is nothing but bizarre, out-there oddness (not that there's anything wrong with that!) is missing the fuller picture: it's a celebration of homegrown creativity in all its manifestations, from Cunningham-influenced weirdness to feel-good party music.

To coin a phrase, it's all good.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Thanks for the compliments, Ron. We really appreciate them. We had a wonderful night at the ABK, and the show at the Allendale last night was a huge success! Next year, we're going to come up with a piece that will be VERY much something for Infringement. I've been messing with the idea for a while now.. ;)