ICI Visualist in Residence 2014

In 2014, I was a Visualist in Residence with the Institute of Cultural Inquiry in Los Angeles.

My time at the ICI continued my ongoing practice-based research into Los Angeles’ history of gurus and spiritualists, mystic potential and female narrative as witchcraft.  My final presentation at the ICI included a ceremony for the autumnal equinox.

I spoke about this work with Amanda Yates Garcia’s program, “The Oracle Hour” on KCHUNG.

In my time at the ICI, also explored the physical and gestural visual language of American history as represented through old film strips.

Endurance Performance Proposition #2 (Lenny Bruce Live at Carnegie Hall)

In this piece, I performed Lenny Bruce’s entire 2 hour show from 1961 from beginning to end, speaking the language as I was hearing it over headphones.  Viewers only heard my attempts to keep up with Bruce’s blistering pace.  In the gaps, the constant slippage between his words and my attempts to speak them, I attempt to reach and extract a historical embodied knowledge–mother wit, a Jewish sensibility about the world–that runs, like a river, underneath the language.

For My Enemies

A project in video, live performance and installation, “For My Enemies” interrogates the fantasy of the Male Genius, to both undermine and, as a female artist, to occupy it. I’m exposing the anxieties inherent in the myth of the male genius: anxieties that I am both biologically excluded from, but also inevitably shaped by. In these “little thefts,” I steal language, performance sequences, fantasies and visual elements from male artists, cult leaders and politicians, famous and lesser-known. My videos in this series (“Three Little Thefts”, 2011) have shown both at the UAG and at workspace gallery in Los Angeles and I was invited by Movement Research to perform the next set of “little thefts” at their Residency Series at Judson Church in New York (2011).

“Three Little Thefts” (2011)

For My Enemies: Portrait of MW (2009)

Little Thefts, in-process work performed at Movement Research at Judson Church Residency series. (2011)

Nostalgia de la boue

Nostalgia de la boue is a series of photos in which the “model minority” status of Jews and Chinese is cracked open with re-enactments of fin de siecle era racialization, which was then seen as natural reflections of both “races”.   In “longing for the mud” of the past leads to performances of the appealing but syphilitic Jewess (as Europe saw her) and the malevolent Chinee (as America saw him), both posing the shared symbol of the rat.

Performance at Autonomie Gallery for the Foundation for Art Resources opening. I’m in whiteface singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ in Yiddish to a live rat, while audience members perform an entirely fictional Fluxus score by an entirely fictional failed Fluxus artist, Bert Hoyk, himself the son of an entirely fictional failed immigrant Tin Pan Alley songwriter.

Endurance Performance Proposition #3 (Fade to Black)

The third in a series of performances that attempt to crack open embodied cultural knowledge through some act of durational performance.  We use the sunset as a theatrical fade to blackon the denoument–the final moment that everything before it was leading to, the final moment that moves forward into eternity.  We inscribe performance onto natural phenomena, slowing down and complicating the final moment of relief, of the confidence in the meaning in a single moment, that we the viewer have when the story “ends.”

Theater (1998-2008)

From 1998 to 2008, I directed (and often concurrently wrote/developed) original experimental and physical theater works.

You can read my full credit list here [Resume 0212], or travel through some of my selected projects from over the years.  My community-based work can be seen here [link TK].

  • CLEAN (2008)
  • CLOWN BIBLE (2007)
  • {The 99-Cent} Miss Saigon (2006)
  • CLUB (2004)
  • Living Newspaper Project (2001)

Endurance Performance Proposition #1 (Birth of a Nation)

Six performers enact, frame by frame, what is both the first great chase of Cinema, and one of the most infamous and distasteful moments of American film history–the Flora/Gus scene from D.W. Griffith’s 1916 blockbuster. Griffith’s filmic language remains ubiquitous: his editing, tension, suspension, parallel plots, and onscreen movement of a body–originally deployed for White Supremacist purposes and riddled with his own perverse erotic desire–is now part of our own DNA as viewers.

To defamiliarize and exorcise Griffith’s tactics from our bodies, my performers repeated the sequence for as long as it took to submit to total exhaustion.  When we presented it at the Greater LA MFA show in 2010, the piece ran for four hours.

The Whore’s Dialogue

Inspired by the characters of the raconteuses in the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and the extinct pornographic literary form of the whore’s dialogue, this piece is an immersive multi-channel video installation that enacts a ritual of the transmission, through language and the expertise of performance, of sexual knowledge between women.

Thursday, April 26, to Friday, May 11
Room Gallery, UC Irvine
Gallery open Tuesdays through Sundays, 12pm-6pm

Artist’s Statement

The whore’s dialogue is an extinct genre of written pornography.  Popular throughout Europe from the 1300s to the 1700s (and some people think earlier), it would take the form of a conversation between an older sexual libertine; and a young protege, often a daughter.  The experienced whore would hold forth on sex and seduction (obviously), but also human nature, politics, provide social commentary and tips on survival; the daughter behave as the foil, her rather bland dialogue inciting the whore’s juicy next line (“oh how interesting, tell me more!” etc.)

I came to this Whore’s Dialogue through the characters of the raconteuses in 120 Days of Sodom.  In the Marquis de Sade’s novel, four corrupt nobles stage a violent orgy with an assortment of virginal victims whom they despoil and ultimately destroy.

The nobles also hire four aged madams whose role it is to narrate the orgy; de Sade makes clear that these women, the keepers of stories, are the most important ingredient; the party cannot happen without them.I found the idea of this role—the older woman as the taxonomist of the perverse, relegated to the role of language, to be a provocative container for my own ambivalent and conflicted investigations of sexuality and gender. Pornography makes the intimate political, by putting private or secret acts into language.  The position of speaker is both one of power and impotence.

The piece meditates on the experienced performer, our sometimes unwilling immersion into the rituals of sexuality, and the corruptions underlying our complicity in all such rituals.

The text combines diverse sources:  memoir, news stories of violent and complex sex crimes, hooker blogs, etc:  the differences between pleasurable consensual sexual encounters, pornographic fantasy, and acts of violence are flattened out.  The experienced woman is divided into three aspects:  the Mother, who offers advice, tells jokes, and models sexual interaction; the Anima, who can only speak in the voice of the person who is not her in the sexual act; and the Wife, who suffers.   The Daughter, who we never see, responds at the end with her own response to the lessons learned.  (2012)