On Saturday, March 28, Biennialist Marianne Vitale brought together a group of writers, performers, poets, and thinkers to realize a collaborative artist cabaret – THE CLIPPER. The performance was presented by Kunstverein NY as part of YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE AN HOUR AGO – a monthly series that is guest-curated by performance artists, filmmakers, and writers that will be presented at White Slab Palace on the last Sunday of each month, from 6-8pm. The evening staged gallery-grade performance art angst, supported by a full, live jazz/rock ensemble. Taking us back to the Seventies (1970, 1870 and 1770) on a mock ship stage, replete with ol’factory mood-setting dead fish decoration, the experience meshed nightclub glamarama with Musikverein-ish social opera via a Royal-Court-like contemporary art jestering. Characters got interactive with seaweed tossing, singing sailors and a happy sea-woman, amidst a revolutionary who cleans up the conceptual act after a human clam unloaded salty water onto the crowd. Screaming drunkards, lovers, a dancing drag, and a silent naked golden muse masthead paint a tableau of today – lambasting fraudulent eco-capitalism, problematizing political pirates, and debating and delighting in dead-end debauchery. The troupe delivered the evening’s themes, both simple and complex, to an audience who each shared a moment of their own stardom for some part of the rough half hour. The occasional reading from the script on stage reminded viewers that this was a coordination of mostly performance artists deft in-the-moment energy.
More text, images and related links after the jump:
Aboard THE CLIPPER, Todd Colby captained the crew, while sea-woman Dina Seiden recited skate porn. With bulging forearms, singing sailor Michael Portnoy delivered a medley of blues, reggae, and 30’s show tunes before colliding with Somali pirate scholar Sandeep Bhuller. Brandon Olson appeared as a European Baroness on board a 1970’s yacht party (the wrong ship), amidst Walter Gambini intermittent updates on his mental state at sea. Josh Boyer played the oily, scantily clad, and armed (with water pistol) clam, which sprang surprisingly from its shell partway through the performance. The figurehead of the boat was designed by Jessica Mitrani.
The live score was provided by Pete Drungle on piano/ electronics, Tony Lewis on drums, and Al MacDowell on electric bass.
A little birdie told us:
Molly Spaulding of Narnia (cool vintage store on Rivington) did the costumes. Andrea Helgadottir did the make-up (Bjork’s make-up artist), Arturo Vidich (performance artist and Kunstverein NY curator) did the lighting, and the musicians: Pete Drungle, Tony Lewis, and Al MacDowell (all work with Ornette Coleman- were why the music was so phenomenal).
“The Clipper” – The Marianne Vitale Experience presented by Kunstverein NY at White Slab Palace. Photograph by Christopher Marcus.
- Patrick Meagher