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John Bernd, Evidence. 54 White Street (September). Libby Howes, Standing Room Only. The Performing Garage (October). These two performances attempt to reproduce the mind's workings in theatrical contexts; both flounder in problems of material. Howes and Bernd want to show how thinking, remembering, and dreaming are essentially non-linear, that art-making cannot be contained by linear definitions of time. This basically Romantic posture of the artist as always becoming often backfires by over-emphasizing the real (and often ordinary) fluidity of subjective experience. A similar dilemma caused Artaud to cry out in pain over his inability to possess his mind "in its entirety." It still seems necessary to limit in order to expand , not "no ideas but in things" but somewhere between the two stances. In this instance, the limiting, or editing, has to do with the "possibilities," the "things," not the framing of them. The post-modernist frame, call it collage or similitude, is by now a perceptual skill mastered by any downtown audience. The Cunningham/Cage dictum is common currency and is almost certainly both historical referrent and personal artifact for both Howes and Bernd. That they don't have to rebel against existing structures presents its own difficulty. So what happens? Libby Howes uses her body as just another element in a piece which attempts to present various layers of consciousness. This is done with a loose score ofdomestic actions, slides, bits of film, remembered events, and conversations. At one point, she lies on her bed in front of a fan: summer in a New York City loft. There are also slides of venetian blinds taken from the viewpoint of someone lying on the bed. In this way Howes tries to jam the temporal signals and so give us a version of how she experiences her own mind. The most interesting and energizing component of this performance score is the music. Motown, soul, rock, and new wave sounds act as historical catalogue to her age and her cultural heritage. When she plays Glenn Branca's "Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar" as an ending for the performance, the role of music becomes clearly mystical and optimistic. But the piece as a whole has a distracted aura to it; none of the chosen images are strong enough to act as clues to Howes' ontological relationship to herself. The slides and film are murky in quality and intent, and an interesting analysis of her relationship to her mother is clouded by street noise on the tape. Bernd works in the sparser field of dancing; generally wordless, he attempts a similiar illustration of ontology. He plays a disco tune to get going, then drops his wraparound s-unglasses disguised to proceed with repetitive, simple moves. Pivots, rolls, and high-energy jumping limit his dancing voice so that when he becomes the dancing version of pensive, the lack of physical quality differentiation makes him seem a bit precious. He plays a tape of himself reading a selection from Proust's Within a Budding Grove concerning adolescent loneliness and I know I am supposed to see the dancing as separate but involved with the words. Still, I am seduced by the richness of experience Proust renders and lose track of Bernd on his way to such verisimilitude. Bernd dances with integrity , attempting more than a simple illustration of an (of any) opaque persona, but is stuck in this piece by a lack of movement invention. Both works need more information within the frame to equal their rich intents. As of now, they are like rehearsals for the real thing. Margaret Eginton "Dialogues" Just Above Midtown Gallery (October). Although JAM/Downtown, a Tribeca alternative arts center, attempted to bring together the diverse and divergent groups that make up the "downtown," just-outof -the-mainstream part of the art world, few of the participants made use of the theme-" Dialogues." The performances presented were for the most part "monologues" with passive audience par33 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
p. 33
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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