DAVID WOJNAROWICZ AND BEN NEILL — ITSOFOMO

“In 1983, Ben Neill moved from Ohio to New York City. What was going on at the time in music was a very free improvisatory kind of style, a way of fusing different elements together through oppositions and similarities. The result was rather superficial. Ben was more interested in isolating some elements in order to produce a kind of deep resonance keeping each element separate, unexpected, untimely, a kind of creative chaos, in which the pieces clashed and resonated in the distance without ever being pinned down logically. It was the aesthetic of the collage. This is what attracted Ben to David Wojnarowicz’s work.

“With David you always got the feeling that the pieces weren’t randomly chosen; they made some kind of underlying structure that held the pieces together. There was something in his visual work that Ben was trying to do in a musical sense, putting together styles from different historical periods and contemporary forms, but always with the idea of creating some kind of larger by-product. It was very profound. So he called up David and he suggested that they do a collaborative piece at the Kitchen with him. And this was ITSOFOMO [In the Shadow of Forward Motion].

“In 1946 Antonin Artaud recorded a radio version of his famous text To Have Done with the Judgment of God. Directed by Artaud himself, this remarkable recording set shrieks and drumbeats inspired by the Tarahumara Indians against Artaud’s reading of a text about the mid-century American technology of war. War in a test tube, as the Virus of the Invisible, a destruction that is accomplished without bodily contact, spreading as seamlessly as the dream-transmission of primitive plagues.

“Fifty years later we are plagued by the invisible violence of a technology so accelerated that human life has come to a standstill. A globe cut up into cities of dead time. The texts that Wojnarowicz reads are an antidote to abstraction. Passionate, grounded, and dead precise, these texts violently reclaim the body by forcing us to experience the visceral reality of space and time. Set against Neill’s delicate, composed mutantrumpet, percussion, interactive electronics, and South American ethno-music, ITSOFOMO‘s forward motion becomes a battle to reclaim the organism of life.” — Sylvére Lotringer*

This weekend, Wojnarowicz and Neill’s multimedia performance piece ITSOFOMO will be restaged and performed by Neill and Don Yallech at KW Berlin.

ITSOFOMO (IN THE SHADOW OF FORWARD MOTION)

Friday, April 26, at 8 pm.

Saturday, April 27, at 6 pm.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

KW Hall

Auguststrasse 69, Berlin.

*Sylvère Lotringer, in conjunction with the 1992 CD ITSOFOMO by David Wojnarowicz and Ben Neill, and included in the liner notes for the 2018 vinyl release by Jabs.

From top: David Wojnarowicz, ITSOFOMO, performance (1) and rehearsal (2, 3) at the Kitchen, 1989, photographs © Andreas Sterzing; Ben Neill (left) and Don Yallech perform ITSOFOMO at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018.

JOHN KELLY AT REDCAT

“Songs are like tattoos,” wrote Joni Mitchell, echoing the pain of their creation. For the composer, songs often outlive the love that inspired them. For the rest of us, they’re emblems of the faces and places they evoke and the times they define.

John Kelly—visual and performance artist, writer, choreographer, and Mitchell interpreter nonpareil—brings his new, highly subjective work TIME NO LINE to Los Angeles for a three-night stand at Redcat.

Based on journal entries spanning forty years, TIME NO LINE bridges the decades with movement, music, and art. As an on-the-ground witness to the initial devastation of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the culture wars of the 1990s, Kelly is an artist-activist of rare insight and experience, and this engagement is not to be missed.

“The spoken word was the last thing I cared to add to my arsenal as a performer… [Journal writing is a] habit that has accumulated and become a significant body of work, a source of both insanely good raw material and embarrassment and remorse. It’s tough to read back through this stuff.” — John Kelly

On opening night, Kelly will join writer and professor David Román for a post-performance talk.*

JOHN KELLY—TIME NO LINE

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, April 25, 26, and 27.

All shows at 8:30 pm.

Redcat

631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

*David Román is the author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS and co-editor—with Holly Hughes—of O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance.

Joni Mitchell, “Blue,” © 1971, Joni Mitchell Music, Inc. (BMI).

John Kelly, Time No Line performance photographs, from top: Paula Court; John Kelly‘s Instagram; Theo Cote; Court. Images courtesy of John Kelly and the photographers.

John Kelly (above) at Sideways into the Shadows, his portrait series of lovers, friends, and colleagues lost to the AIDS epidemic, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 2018. Photograph by Susan Rand Brown, courtesy of John Kelly and the photographer.

MOVED BY THE MOTION — SUDDEN RISE

SUDDEN RISE—co-written by Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten—is the New York City performance debut of the ensemble Moved by the Motion.

This “collage” of text, film, movement, and sound is complemented by the words of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Hannah Arendt, W.E.B. Du Bois and Jimi Hendrix.

MOVED BY THE MOTION—SUDDEN RISE

Friday, April 26, at 8 pm.

Saturday April 27, at 4 pm and 8 pm.

Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort Street, New York City.

Moved by the MotionSudden Rise, photographs by Paula Court/EMPAC. Images courtesy of Moved by the Motion and the photographer.

THE NICETIES

“To describe a life is to paraphrase it; and to paraphrase is to set the original aside. Removed from immediate consciousness, a described life is not merely past, not merely an article of memory. It becomes the occasion of a narrative that closes on a heinous injustice, or several; it sacrifices on the altar of abstraction those moments of the living person that were singular and unrepeatable, irreducibly human.” — Darby English*

On our college campuses and in THE NICETIES—the textually rich new play by Eleanor Burgess—the groves of academe are riven with theoretical landmines. At issue onstage at the Geffen Playhouse is the subject of history—how it should be taught and who should do the teaching.

Janine Bosko (Lisa Banes) is a highly regarded professor at an Ivy League university. Convinced that good intentions and steadfast devotion to primary sources shield her from criticism, she meets with one of her students—Zoe (Jordan Boatman)—to discuss her thesis on the American Revolution. Professor Bosko finds the paper intelligently written but fundamentally flawed, too reliant on the subjectivity of its author. For her part, Zoe has determined that, in the hands of her professor, history is an insidious instrument blocking social change.**

This brilliantly performed discourse on representation, identity, and justice versus revenge was directed by Kimberly Senior in a production transferred intact from the Manhattan Theatre Club. Burgess does not insult her audience with easy resolutions, and the debate continued long after the curtain went down.

THE NICETIES

Through May 12.

Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, Los Angeles.

*Darby English, “Introduction: To Describe a Life,” in To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019), 2.

**The Niceties was inspired by the 2015 Yale Halloween-costume controversy.

The Niceties, Geffen Playhouse, from top: Lisa Banes (left) and Jordan Boatman; Boatman; Banes; Banes and Boatman. Photographs by T. Charles Erickson.

STAN DOUGLAS AT THE HAMMER

“Jacques Derrida loved the word observe. He paid special attention to its root word, serve, which tied observation to respect, service, and deference. To observe something, he thought, was an act of humility. You gave yourself over to the details, gathering data and storing it in reserve for the future… *

Stan Douglas uses lens-based media to facilitate this kind of servitude to details. I mention Derrida not to overemphasize the theoretical structures at work in Douglas’ output (and there are many), but rather to point out that the production details Douglas wants viewers to notice in his work are many and fine, and require sustained concentration…. [His work] is an invitation to become curious: about the narratives that have brought Douglas’ subjects to his camera and to the viewer’s gaze; about the processes Douglas uses to make an image look the way it does; and about how his subjects have emerged from seemingly long-lost historical moments and ended up in his pictures.” — Katie Anania

This week, Stan Douglas will give the UCLA Department of Art Lecture at the Hammer.

STAN DOUGLAS talk

Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 pm.

Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

*See Jacques DerridaMemoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 23.

Stan Douglas, from top: Exodus, 1975, 2012, digital C-print mounted on aluminum; Malabar People series, Dancer, 1951, 2011, digital fiber print; The Secret Agent installation view, David Zwirner, New York, 2016, six-channel video installation, eight audio channels with six musical variations, color, sound, 53:35 minutes; Luanda-Kinshasa (2013, still, Jason Moran at left), single-channel video projection, color, sound, 6 hours, 1 minute; Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971, 2008, chromogenic print mounted on aluminum; Inconsolable Memories (2005, still), two synchronized asymmetrical film loop projections, 16 mm black-and-white film, sound, fifteen permutations with a common period of 5:39 minutes. Images © Stan Douglas and courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, and Victoria Miro.