Des Moines
Des Moines

this week

weekly art forecasts from Central Iowa

Who’s exhibiting and opportunities for artists

Howling, Bawling, Weeping, Singing

goodkidrob:

“I Am” is a phrase that gets caught in one’s throat easily. It seems so straight forward to say, so simple,  two mere syllables …and yet … it isn’t simple to say. We choke on it. Why is just existing so fraught with complication ?

image

Des Moines has gotten weird , thank god.

Or maybe… more accurately… weird is getting attention, finally.

This Friday at Larassa Kabel’s fantastic art show “UpSpeak” at Moberg Gallery I was happily soaking in  a nice intense devised performance by Heidi Wiren Bartlett and Tempestt Farrar called “BE”

image

I really got a lot out of it.

The piece seemed to be about identity and performativity – and the conflicts that arise when excepting your identity come into conflict with the awareness of a crowd watching you. Taking place on small wooden stages in the center of the gallery, the protagonist would fluctuate from  seeming to feel obligated to “put on a show”, referencing historically weighted dance and songs, to seeming exhausted, authentic and sincere. Tempestt would seem to imbrace herself at some points, and at other points be very aware of the crowd.

For me , this piece was powerful where the cracks in the performance appeared – where the heroine said “ I am so tired. I don’t want to be here, doing this “ or stuttering over the phrase “I am”.

“I Am” is a phrase that gets caught in one’s throat easily. It seems so straight forward to say, so simple,  two mere syllables …and yet … it isn’t simple to say. We choke on it. Why is just existing so fraught with complication ?

image

It was nice to see a gallery audience have to sit with the kind of uncomfort that comes with good performance art. Because the piece seemed to be about “performing” for others, everyone in the gallery was automatically cast as a partner in the piece. There was nothing you could do while the performance was happening that didn’t implicate you.  Some people shifted around, not knowing what they should do, not knowing when the piece would end or if it would, wondering if they could stop watching and look at the other art, wondering if they were being made fun of, wondering how they could help, wondering if they should help,  wondering what their role was … The bored white critic with his arms crossed became a character in the performance whether he wanted to be or not. As were the concerned witnesses who offered to cover Tempestt with her white cloak or the woman who fanned her. Towards the end, the die hard audience members watched as she sat alone on the floor wailing. The fact that much of the audience was now looking at the art, murmuring to themselves in typical gallery speak while she was howling into the crowd made the gesture more potent.

I don’t know , I am not a writer. I am not a thinker either , which is unfortunate because there was plenty to write and think about  I hope there is a good review being written up somewhere, so that I can read it.

image
Rachel Buse