Polemic of Blood
Ever since a suicide attempt at age 15, death has been a constant companion for Ron Athey—even more so since 1985, the year he tested positive for HIV. Until it wasn’t. Healthy on the 30th anniversary of his diagnosis, the 53-year-old performance artist reflects on the “post-AIDS” body, the 1994 performance that put him at the center of the Culture Wars firestorm, and his homecoming after six years abroad.
Five Decades, Six Galaxies, and Counting: The AACM at 50
Musical revolutions tend to have a spontaneous outlier quality about them, writes Greg Tate. Fifty years ago in Chicago, far from the Manhattan clubs that drew jazz luminaries like John Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Ornette Coleman, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was born. Since then the group has carried “freedom swang” around the globe and, through a new wave of visionaries, into the future.
Visceral Live Therapy: A Babes in Toyland Comeback
Paul M. Davis
“I said I’d never, ever do a reunion,” guitarist and singer Kat Bjelland told Rolling Stone recently. And yet this June, after a 14-year hiatus, her seminal punk band Babes in Toyland is returning to the city of its inception to play Rock the Garden 2015. Paul M. Davis looks at the obstacles the band overcame to get here and the “visceral live therapy”—in Bjelland’s words—the reunion represents.
The Thingness of the Thing
As time passes, the preservation of net.art will seem radically interpretive compared to traditional museum conservation, predicts Samek Art Museum director Richard Rinehart, with successive generations of artworks being technically, materially, and observably different from their parents. As evidence, he offers Piotr Szyhalski’s 1997 Walker-commissioned work Ding an sich, newly relaunched as an iPad app.
The Universal Latin American Theater of Mariano Pensotti
Mariano Pensotti’s genre-bending Cineastas is a play that exists outside of the contemporary expectations of Latin American theater. Instead of “Amazonian sensuality” and magical realism, Pensotti presents us with “a hybrid moment that moves between the theatrical event, performance installation, and literary narration”—a moment that takes equal influence from Roberto Bolaño and Wim Wenders.
The Political Provocations of Keith Haring
John R. Killacky
Keith Haring’s activism, delivered in his trademark effervescent candy-colored pop aesthetic, is alive and well in works featured in Keith Haring: The Political Line, now on view in San Francisco. Reviewing the exhibition catalogue, former Walker performing arts curator John Killacky examines Haring’s provocations, from guerrilla postings of agitprop collages to works commenting on AIDS, crack, and racism.
The Unadorned Archetype: Discussing The Evening with Richard Maxwell
“I’ve always felt there’s an urgency when people step out on stage,” Richard Maxwell tells Soho Rep’s Sarah Benson. “That’s part of why I feel cautious about making things dramatic. It’s already a dramatic situation!” Their chat ranges from archetypes in Maxwell’s new play The Evening—from “the hooker with a heart of gold” to the aging prizefighter—and the difference between a person and a character.
ONCE, Not Again
“It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen daredevil events before,” recalls former Walker director Martin Friedman of a lone 1965 performance by the ONCE Group in the Walker lobby, “but this was the first time I was responsible for them, all in the name of art.” The collective of composers, poets, and dancers “took scary chances,” he remembers: “My heart was in my mouth from beginning to end.”
Indeterminate Adventures with Cage
During his four-decade relationship with the Walker, composer John Cage visited Minneapolis numerous times. As Walker director emeritus Martin Friedman recalls, these visits often veered toward the unexpected—fitting for an artist closely associated with the musical concept of Indeterminacy—from a late-night reading of James Joyce with Tony Smith to Sunday-morning mushroom hunting in a church yard.