Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Emily Sloan performs a cuddle puddle at PERFORMANCE ART HOUSTON

above picture courtesy of Matthew Glover

last three pictures by Rico Svaughn

Emily Sloan arranged a power nap in the middle of Performance Art Houston's performance night at El Rincon Social. Audience members were invited to refresh themselves with a power nap-cuddle puddle in the upstairs loft. A timer was set for 10 minutes, and Ms. Sloan read the group a short story called "Not Tired" from Else Holmelund Minarik's "Little Bear's Visit". Afterwards, everyone was refreshed for experiencing the remaining performances.

Ms. Sloan has a related performance/participatory project called "Napping and its Affects on Performance (NAP)" opening Friday, May 14 (through June 25) at Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77006.

John Richie performs Soon You'll See at PERFORMANCE ART HOUSTON

pictures by rico svaughn

Soon You'll See

I'm fortunate enough to have a job that allows me freedom of mind, but unfortunately doesn't pay well. I like to pass time at work by listening to lectures and audio books. This speech was inspired by a course I listened to called Power of Conversational Hypnosis. Most my life I believed that hypnosis was just a quack act, but I heard more about it in a psychology course that got me interested enough to find and try Conversational Hypnosis. I enjoyed the course and came to recognize the ways we communicate unconsciously and how we are influenced and controlled but subtle suggestions. I then listened to Ron Paul's "The Revolution" and Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope" comparatively and found that Obama was more persuasive because of his use of hypnotic principles. I decided to parody this political rhetoric in my own speech. I wrote this speech to be entertaining but also to suggest my own perceptions. This is a transcript, broken down with notes.

Good evening.
My name is John Richie. I'd like to start by thanking the organizer of this event, Julia Clair. Thank you for creating this atmosphere where we can share and grow.

(This is meant to get attention, and bring people into agreement because thanking Julia is something everyone can agree with.)

That is why I've chosen this place, and you people to speak to tonight. Because you are artist and intellectuals. A community of the creators of culture. And though you may feel your voice isn't being heard, I believe it carries further than your eyes can see.

(This is furthering the sense of agreement, what is called a "yes set".)

But we are all individuals, and I am not here to debate the issues.

(The contradiction here is meant to amuse and confuse.)

I want to gain your support for my candidacy for world emperor in 2012...

(I meant to start serious so that at this point the listener doesn't know if I'm joking. Listen closer.)

...and I expect you to be skeptical, but please...embrace your open mind.

(This acknowledges the thoughts they should have just had, thus returning them to the yes set. Then "embrace your open mind" is the main command I wanted to give. This speech is meant to mock many of the conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions I've seen videos about on the internet. "embrace your open mind" has a double meaning, the surface meaning is that the listener has an open mind and should appreciate it by listening to me. But the underlying command is to close your mind, the way you would if you actually embraced it. The message I wanted to send is be careful what you believe. People like me can speak utter bullshit with dire conviction.)

Give me this time, for I have a vision of the future that you too soon will see...

(Many great leaders claimed to have divine visions, but that is not something people in our secular society would ever believe so it's an experience few have any more.)

Just four nights ago, I went walking in the woods to examine my dissatisfaction with modernity. And there I came across a tree with a fruit that I'd never seen before. Curiosity made me try it, but that taste reminded me of the bitterness of nature. So I sat beneath the tree to ponder that moments metaphor.

(Here I start a story, which our minds are more accepting to because after all, it's just a story. This has vague biblical references which should make it feel familiar, but I also wanted to hint I could have been hallucinating after eating unfamiliar fruit.)

It was there that I was struck by light, and though I closed my eyes I could not escape. And intuitively I knew I'd been touched by inspiration.

(This is the beginning of a series of what's called nested stories, meant to overload short term memory.)

Then I looked deep into the light and in it I saw a crack grow into a canyon in which I recognized the figure of Charles Manson, climbing a shadowed cliff. Then the shadows grew until they consumed me too.

(Charle's Manson believed that a race war called Helter Skelter would happen, and he and his followers would hide in a city under death valley they would reach through a giant hole. I meant to reference that while also suggesting his rise from imprisonment of other darkness.)

Still my vision continued. As I retreated from the black it became a young girls eyes, who was crying and telling her story of survival to our own president, Barack Obama.
Obama is a good man. I know that, we all know that he wants to bring peace and unity to the world. But Manson knows this too, and believes that Helter Skelter is imminent. He's spent his last decades in prison, studying and preparing for his part. And now, he is determined to overthrow Obama. That is the meaning of my vision.
Obama will have overwhelming success despite harsh criticism from the loudest voices in the U.S. and next year following his most profound speech to the U.N. He will be suggested for the position of first World Emperor.

(More nested stories, meant to mock the Emperor Obama conspiracy.)

By that time, Manson will have used his vast knowledge and natural charm to become recognized as leader, and prophet of the anti-Obama movement. Then, in the spirit of demockracy the U.N. will choose Charles Manson as Obama's only opponent in the race for world emperor.

(This is meant to suggest my view of democracy.)

This is the future I've seen. I was inspired for a purpose, because though Obama is a great president, he doesn't know the danger of being world emperor...and Manson is just a distraction!

(Political rhetoric, plus a surprise twist.)

My vision ends with the threat of Obama's assassination by someone much darker...

(Racist suggestion in the double meaning.)

You see, Obama is being used to create the position of world emperor, but if he does, he will be disposed of and the real leader will emerge to succeed him. The terror that he may bring is still kept secret...even to me.

(Ooo secret I want to know!)

..but now I know it is my fate to save us from that future by taking the risk of being world emperor...but I can't do it alone! To be the peoples choice, I need your support now. You should support me because I know how to live, hidden in isolation, while maintaining an internet connection, to watch the world and blog my opinion.

(More making fun of egoism and internet conspiracies. But I also wanted to suggest that were there a world emperor, the position should have no power but world recognition and respect for the emperors opinion.)

The present is moving too fast to continue looking to the past for answers.

(More double meaning and confusion. It is always the present, even if it seems like everything is changing faster now.)

I've shown you the future, but inevitably it is always a surprise.

(Back to yes set, double meaning because the vision of the future I gave should be surprising, but also we never know the future)

My hope is you will see it in my eyes and support me with your power of expression.

(Eyes are most hypnotic. More yes set and flattery.)

So remember, Richie for world emperor in 2012. SPREAD THE MESSAGE!


FUK.BOX... an Carefully Unihibited Exhibition:

An examination of private intimacy between a married couple. A dedication of the desire for sexual intimacy between two people exclusively, within a public sphere. Such that two individuals, as a couple, dedicate their sexual energy to each other exclusively, in the presence of other people, which is the domain of marriage.

So you take an exclusive couple and you place them in public. They maintain the sovereignty of their union, even while the world whirls around them.

Also, their actions within the box are private, even while in the public sphere.

There is also an examination of simultaneity, as what is occurring within the box, and what is occurring outside the exhibition, within homes in the immediate vicinity of the exhibition, are made similiar. HOPEFULLY....
thereby bridging the gap formed around the gallery as locus for the virtual experience of art appreciation, which dwells in the realm of secondness.

The.McCords: Stevie and Myself are a married couple. We re-met each other after MANY YEARS and much experience gained since our previous parting. We function as support and inspiration for one another, as we progress through life.

Our own private emotional evolutions, and appreciation of others, are what we hope to make public, safely and with beneficial gains for all, through Performance and other artistic mediums.

We have felt tremendous resistance from outside our marriage, toward our marriage, and Artistic Endeavor is our means of broadcasting a beneficial message, one stating the sanctity of our union, love's ties, our cumulative world views, revisited and revised on the fly, and finally, the nature of overcoming odds.

Thank you for appreciating our Art. May It Mean for You.

Daniel Adame performs Head Strong at PERFORMANCE ART HOUSTON

pictures by craig hart christie jr.
Head Strong: I breathed into the bag with a sense of patience I thought, but then the sounds from around came into mind and reactions peered through and John Ritchie's Dumbo campaign played into my toes till I fell back and hit my head on the concrete. I wanted there to be enough air but there wasn't and it hurt a bit. I was glad that I had a single piece jump suit and socks on; I felt safer. I didn't breathe in any carbon dioxide this time because I think it might've been harmful. The eyes were concerned. The head was strong.


Randomly Genderated Text is based on Freudian phallocentricism, feminist theory, and computer code. Men are 1's and women are 0's. Men have a penis and women lack a penis. This fundamental dichotomy creates language upon which all systems of thought reside and is inherently male centered. Every letter in the alphabet can be translated into a specific arrangement of 1's and 0's. Asking people to photograph their genitals will produce the 1's and 0's respectively and the order in which people participate will produce specific letters. The anonymous clustering of sets of eight genital photos will then be used to represent single letters. The opportunity to invert the 1's and 0's will produce different letters flipping notions of Fruedian gender theory. Giving material specificity (human genitals) to abstract concepts (letters, language).

Meditation Painting is about what gives value to a work of art. Participants are asked to give their time and energy, via meditation, to a blank canvas and thereby imbue it with value and worth. Participants names and the duration of time they spend in meditation are recorded as a record of the accumulated worth the canvas retains.

Aside from the rhetoric of what is driving these pieces, they are essentially participatory works of art that cannot be realized without the viewers' participation. They are fundamentally about relationship. The audience/guests/participants become co-creators and in this sense they are extremely important.

Sway Youngston's Ottomon Empire at Performance Art Houston

pictures by Craig Hart Christie jr.

pictures by Rico Svaughn

The first performance of this piece at Notsuoh last fall featured the talented NICKTEEL and had a different theme where the female character retains her power over the male character throughout, though she does break down a bit at the end in her own sense of self-loathing. The most recent performance, however, sought to explore the possibility of a power shift mid-piece. The female reluctantly relinquishes power as the male takes it in a moment of passion. She is a slave to his physical prowess, and only when he forces himself on her is she able to let go of her dominant position. I really enjoyed performing with my lover, David Davis, but during rehearsal, the characters started to become more like us in real life. Since this piece is about two characters who don’t really like each other much but still retain the monotonous lives to which they are dedicated, I removed elements I believed alluded to my relationship with David and was able to regain control of the original characters and intentions. As apprehensive as I was about performing a strip tease, I had great support from David, as well as inspiration from the incredibly sensual song, “Feelin Love” by Paula Cole, and wound up enjoying myself quite a bit during the dance. Thanks to Julia Wallace, El Rincon Social, and David Davis for your encouragement and passion for art in all its forms. I’m really enjoying performance art and can’t wait for the next event!



by Devin Finch

On March 27 the El Rincon Social housed a rowdy crowding of curious Houstonians going toe-to-toe amongst sex, dance and cigarette smoke like a shitfaced Busby Berkeley dance routine gone astray in an abandoned art supply store. Within seconds of entering I drunkenly stumbled upon a guy laying face down and completely nude on the cold cement floor while a photographer squatted next to him and pushed the limits of personal boundaries with his camera. To my sides there was a tent set up with the intended instruction of meditating on a blank canvas and another for taking pictures of your own genitalia (this didn't really pick up steam till after the free whiskey shots, if I remember correctly.)

This is Performance Art Houston, the awesomely weird (and free) performance art fun house put together by Julia Wallace and a host of other ambitious locals who likely made lunch under the staircase awesome in high school. Like an art gallery pinned to a pub wall, Performance Art Houston is as much about social camaraderie over cheap booze and liquor shots as it is a dada playground for the creatively driven and culturally fringe.

Immersed in the laissez-faire recess of Performance Art Houston's avant garde wonderland, you're likely to witness a guy inflating a huge balloon mask baring the emoticon-like visage of an anime character's facial traits with his own breath, a couple engaged in public fucking and a mound of strangers cuddling to a bed time story; not only in one night but at the same (awesome) time. It's surreal and often confusing but always exciting.

Houston's infamous Evil Ke-Steve O, Jacob Calle, provided a video montage of various entertaining and daring stunts including a series of attempted Christmas tree lunges, his friends punching his face into a swollen pulp and the drinking and throwing-up of his own blood; all of which was projected onto the warehouse wall much like the epitomical scene in Problem Child 2 (the one where Junior exhibits the footage of Big Ben Healy beating the shit out of him onto a garage door.) [He actually projects footage of his babysitter getting her groove on with a boyfriend. At no point does Big Ben lay a finger on poor, misunderstood Junior Healy - ed.] Okay, fine. But read between the lines; just because they didn't show it DOESN'T MEAN IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!

Julia Wallace spanked her own ass at great length for the crowd before whipping pocket change into a large cup filled with hers and other daring (read: drunk) audience participant's urine while the 1981 billboard hit "Jessie's Girl" boomed over the speakers (an experience many of us who grew up with alcoholic grandfathers can relate to.) Bethany Fort gave out bracelets made from a designer handbag she had quickly sliced apart with a pair of scissors seconds before, a piece that earned her the now infamous nickname "DA KRAZY KUTTA: KINDEST JEWELER IN H-TOWN" and even the lesser known "BETHANY FORT: SIZZORZ MANIAK OF THE INNERLOOP".

Much of the experience started to resemble a particularly high brow haunted house and honestly the shock-an-awe was on par with one. Approaching the dead end of a dark and crowded hallway, one was witness to Nick Teel strolling across an empty room completely naked as a syncopated buzzer and lamp slowly flickered like a strobe light to the laps of his back-and-forth pacing. Nervously peering into the room was like coming upon a Museum of Natural Science exhibit just as the 8 hits of bad acid peak (which is to say, it was mutually engaging and hallucinogenic.)

Outside of this hallway, a cubicle-esque tent assembled with blankets and plastic poles entitled the "Fuk Box" was sheathing an adventurous couple embarking in some light hearted sheets-and-shadow exhibitionism in the name of art. This is likely not the first time the bedroom closet cache of a child's homemade fort has inspired some exuberantly lewd behavior in a warehouse. Even though they were "under the sheets", that didn't stop a series of people from placing their cameras over the box to take multiple snapshots that are worth as many words as they are vibrato fraught yelps. Nor did it stop a generous fellow who politely lifted me on his shoulders to enthusiastically peer over like a kid glancing above the picket fence shielding a raunchy drive-in movie. The make shift curtains accidentally got knocked down moments later, so it wasn't as lecherous as it seems.

Despite this being a back alley pageant show for those who prefer their punch spiked with the soured psycho-activity of acid tabs and psilocybin , I highly recommend it to anyone who is simply up for something new and interesting. Every performer is incredibly down to earth in defiance of the art school stereotype that likely comes bubbling up in the back of many people's minds upon hearing "performance art". The whole affair was not only completely free of pretension; it refreshingly reveled in it's light hearted fuck-off-glee.

With more akin to a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening than a daunting interpretive dance recital, it's a completely awesome way to spend a Saturday night with some drinks and post experience stories. And in my drunken stupor, I failed to not only mention but even see a majority of the great artists involved, so I recommend checking the Performance Art Houston blog to catch the details for this and other upcoming events. On my personal Bill & Ted meter, this is definitely an Excellent Adventure and NOT a Bogus Journey.