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EYE FIGURE FICTION Matthew Maguire/Creation Company Gautam Dasgupta Consider a work billed as a "play in nine frames." The performance space is circumscribed by flats cut out in the shape of a grid; upstage hangs a screen on which images are projected from the rear. Visuals, taped music and voice-overs, and live performers fuse into a vivid theatrical collage to underscore a dense narrative line structured with an obsessive metronomic precision . (Each frame or unit is exactly six minuted long, with an intervening twentyseven second span to effect transitions between segments.) The narrative, involuted as it is, is not revealed simply through causal connections; it evolves through a complex associative system that relies primarily on a vocabulary of images, supplemented occasionally (and ironically) by language. The visuals run the gamut from Eadweard Muybridge's studies of motion, Bauhaus human constructions, Gustave Moreau's paintings, Duchamp's "Chess Game," Dore's illustrations of Dante's Inferno, Picasso's "Saltimbanques," and artists' renditions of Lincoln's assassination to more generalized projections of war, hunger, deprivation and random out-ofsync duplications of the live events on stage. Four performers (two men and two women) enact (to use an outmoded theatrical term for a work which sets out to delineate new boundaries for a new Photographs by Nancy Campbel theatre) roles of the Booth brothers (Edwin and John Wilkes) and their acting partners (Mary Devlin and Mary McVicker) who, in turn, are portrayed as depicting their favorite bits of business from their favorite Shakespearean plays-Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Richard III-and the 19thcentury photographer Mathew Brady. Elsewhere, they render Lincoln's assassination in a realistic style, strut the stage with courtly Renaissance mien, agitate in jesterlike , patchwork costumes, announce their presences as anthropomorphic beings (Max Ernst's - "Minotaur" and "Bird-Meh"), and assume running or dancing poses. The pre-recorded voices blurt out stage directions , declaim lines from Shakespeare, and recite excerpts from the writings of Gertrude Stein, William Burroughs, and Wittgenstein , which are also, at times, projected onto the screen. Throughout this visual and aural fusillade, a recurring im26 FRAME 1 FRAME 2 FRAME 3 MOTION DESIRE LABYRINTH FRAME 4 FRAME 5 FRAME 6 MAYA BALANCE PHRASE FRAME 7 FRAME 8 FRAME 9 LOSS 7 FLIGHT CODA age traces an indicator on a sine curve that plots the progression of the piece through its nine phases (or spheres) which are Motion , Desire, Labyrinth, Maya, Balance, Phrase, Loss, Flight, and Coda. And this entire experience comes with the enigmatic title Eye Figure Fiction. This distinctive work is the creation of one Matthew Maguire, whose imaginative foray into the bewildering labyrinth of cultural artifacts (and historifacts) serves to notate his (and everyone else's) artistic autobiography. The tantalizing analogues generated by the title provide clues to Maguire's penetrating attitude to artistic praxis. The "Eye," the bodily organ that perceives and thus primarily engages the external world to consciousness, is also the inner-directed eye of the Surrealists (Magritte, Ernst, and the collage-creators of Veristic Surrealism are paid homage to in Eye Figure Fiction). It is also the camera eye, the mechanism of the disinterested observer, the voyeuristic apparatus employed to enjoy reality vicariously (thus cognate with any audience's relation to any artwork), and, in today's cultural context, its technical capability to erode the supremacy of language and thought and replace it with the ascendancy of the image. And finally, it points to the unavoidable equation of "Eye" and "I" (curiously, the photographer Brady and Maguire have identical first names). "Figure," in this line of thinking, suggests the geometry (or geography) of a subject while retaining some consanguinity to its sense of solving a problem (as in "figuring out something"). In such discreet ways does the interpretative mode enter into Maguire's work: The eye (as universal conscience ) or I (as subjective self) figures (solves) fiction, this last being the purest 27 formulations, the "I" trying to comprehend the functioning of the imaginative faculty (hence everybody's autobiography ), rendered in the performative mode as Eye (visuals), Figure (landscape, geometry, grids, sinewy curves, props, costumes, and the human performing component -its geography), and Fiction(the intricate narrative and ideational strategy...


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