Surrealism, The Voice, and Citizenship— Two Arrabalesques, A Surrealist Café
At the re-imagined Bowery Poetry Club (now a foundation) just another avant-garde event took place, as part of just another biennial. The artists performed for a packed house made up of different ilk. I sat in the middle of a long table perpendicular to the stage. On one side performers, and moments before the show started, three middle-aged women of means, or at least giving off that air. They didn’t know what the event was about, only that they were at the “Bowery Poetry Club.” One woman, perhaps Russian, wrangled with her phone to shut-off the flash, after being asked to. Because I care so much for the sensitive space which the art of performance must domiciliate. I showed her how. I had to look at my phone and then hers. Her iPhone was in Russian. I kept asking her “Does this word mean off?” She kept replying “I don’t know.”
I consider it a good thing that avant-garde is so in these days. The viability of its in-ness is nestled in that suggestive acculturation space. True, all good things have their opposites. Pop stars continuously push boundaries, doing the outrageous—crossing the lines of popular performative behaviors and acts. I can only imagine that this will push artists without major record deals, further. And hopefully in an authentic way. Maybe that will look like coming to terms with the deep seeded sense of autonomy that individualism has given rise to, where wakeful consciousness thwarts the safe passage of a dream’s narrative structure. It could resemble letting go of the reigns, and recognizing yourself as merely a conduit. There’s no denying the culture-wide influence of Surrealism.
We can only hope that Performa 13’s Judgement of Taste a worthy attempt to be a reliable source on the matter. Images are from “Two Arrabalesques, A Surrealist Cafe” The performance inspired by, and was to feature, Paris-based Spanish filmmaker, playwright, poet and artist Fernando Arrabal, however, a day before departure he suffered a stroke of which he is expected to fully recover from.
For this special evening the role of emcee was beautifully executed by poet Todd Colby, and opened with bon vivant of New York City fun, Eric Lodwick as Gerard de Nerval, driving his live pet lobster, tethered by wide blue ribbon to a remote control car. The evening featured performances by Amanda Alfieri, Gage Boone, Todd Colby, Item Idem, Joseph Keckler, Irvin Morazan, Ariana Reines, and Jacolby Satterwhite. A collaboration with the CUNY (Martin E. Segal Center), and the Spain Culture New York-Consulate General of Spain.