Houston is about to experience one of the largest performance art events it has ever seen. That is right; artists from ALL OVER THE WORLD are currently flying into our flat little city, preparing to blow our minds with the weirdness that is Performance Art.
The whole festival will kick off with a symposium at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, this Wednesday. A panel of local and international artists will all be weighing in on the fabulous question, "Why Performance?" I am proud to say I have been invited to give my two cents.
Thursday night will begin the three performance events at DiverseWorks. So far the most buzzz I have heard is about Rodney Dickson's piece and Non Grata. I was privy to seeing Rodney's list of needs for his piece, and h.o.l.y.s.h.i.t.... Let's just say, my mind has already been blown by the way his brain works. It is the best list of demands I have ever seen (and by the way they were 'demanded' very, very politely). I would give you a couple of items from the list, but I don't wanna spoil it... Okay, I will give one little clue for the super curious... click here.
Our dear, beloved Ryan Hawk (Houston performance artist turned New York's Grace Exhibition Space's intern) gave me a run down of Non Grata's recent piece in New York. They are performing something different here, but I wanna see anyone who inspired sweet Ryan to shove a glowing lightbulb into his butt area. Yes, Non Grata did that. Yes, you can experience Non Grata too. This Thursday. Ready to buy your tickets yet??
Friday night will be happening at AvantGarden. The main thing I know about Friday is that Jonatan Lopez created an indiegogo campaign in order to buy ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS worth of chocolate. How could you pass up a performance art piece that requires that?
Then Saturday night will bring it all to a head at Notsuoh. Get ready for some Houston classics including one of my favorite characters: Jim Pirtle. He gave me a description of his piece at 4am last Saturday and I couldn't begin to repeat what he told me, but it embodied that wonderful drunk dirty magic that makes Notsuoh glow. And of course, Emily Sloan's Hatchetation. It is already been buzzing all over the facebook. Hide your beerz!
Nancy Douthey will be performing Saturday night as well, and her work is always, always amazing AND I WILL BE PERFORMING TOO, WAHOO!!
Listen all of you, and listen carefully. A group of people was carefully chosen from around the globe based on skills and reputation for creating strange and meaningful experiences. These people have ALL been brought to your city in order to create an amazing festival for you. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. These people are known WORLD WIDE for their SKILLZ, y’all. This kind of thing does not usually happen within Houston, within Texas, within the bottom half of the US of A. BE THERE OR BE EXTREMELY, PAINFULLY SQUARE! Get your wallet out right now and buy your tickets already.
I had a few of the local artists answer some questions for me about the upcoming show... ENJOY!!!!
What are you looking forward to MOST about this festival?
Emily Sloan: The unexpected! I am very excited about meeting the other artists, seeing their work, and witnessing the reactions and responses of myself and others. In fact, I think we should have a follow-up interview after the festival.
Jonatan Lopez: I am excited about experiencing so many diverse and intense performances by so many artists. We have artists coming from all over the world, I can't wait to see the current social issues they will be addressing and the new ways they will be engaging the audience. I am especially, super excited in Rodney Dickson's elaborate performance happening at DiverseWorks and the Viagra-enhanced performance happening the same night.
What do people have to gain from experiencing performance art first hand?
Emily Sloan: Experiencing performance first hand is more memorable. Your senses are engaged, you are sharing the moment with others, and you are experiencing the entire environment..
Jonatan Lopez: People get to experience conceptual art at a much deeper level than they would with visual or performing arts. Most likely, the audience will become part of the performances via optional or mandatory participation; thus, they will leave with a concept engraved in their memories rather than a material object to hang on their walls. And that, to me, is more valuable and durable.
Why should people come to Lone Star Explosion?
Emily Sloan: Seriously, something will happen that you will be glad you didn't miss.
Jonatan Lopez: Why should people not come to Lonestar Performance Explosion? Cause of the rodeo? I am sure that all performance art lovers out there have the event marked in their calendars. This is 'a can't miss' event. More than 30 international and local artist presenting their newest works, if Lady Gaga was coming this weekend and I had tickets to go see her, I would give them away on Craigslist. Plus, this event is highlighting the recent revival of performance art that Houston is experiencing, you’ll get to experience the works of not only international artists but of a group of young new artist in Houston that are bringing new and fresh ideas to the realm of performance art.
Brian and Stevie McCord- The festival is an awesome opportunity for Houstonians to gain exposure to and to form dialogue with the national and international performance performance art community.
Can you share some information about the artists coming to Houston that will entice people to come experience this event?
Jonatan Lopez: Check out Marcus Vinicius work online, it will blow your mind. The performance art group Non-Grata also creates extremely interesting and, rebellious performances that at times involve destroying or blowing up objects such as cars, which in a way reflect current public attitudes towards the constrains of society, specially now with the whole Occupy movement.
Would you like to tell us anything about the piece you will be presenting?
Emily Sloan: Sure. My performance will involve a new direction inspired by some experiences I had working with a cause close to my heart, the Southern Naptist Convention, a specialty performance project with a focus on napping. The Southern Naptists offer free services and are open to all faiths. Basically, if you like Sunday naps or have ever fallen asleep during church, you are welcome to join...
During an outing to share the benefits of napping with some lost souls not familiar with the Southern Naptists, some of the audience became angry. They accused us of condemning people to hell and thinking we are the only "saved" people. Some of the other onlookers heard the actual message of offering rest and began to argue with this group, thus stirring a conflict within the crowd. On another occasion while sharing about this group, I received a message stating that we were just another church that has strayed too far from the bible and is out to get money like so many others. On yet another occasion, a writer wrote an article asking if napping was a “good” answer for the apocalypse. The Southern Naptists do not utilize an "inspired text," are not making or taking any money, and have yet to take any stance regarding the apocalypse (though I suppose you may be lucky if you did manage to sleep through such).
These experiences of being assumed into an antagonistic position have left me wanting more! My response for the festival involves an anachronistic role intentionally seeking to put a "turd in the punch bowl" while also being an invited guest and expected performer. I'm doing my best to withhold expectations...
The (unnamed here) role I will be co splaying incidentally reminds me of my mother!
Brian and Stevie McCord: "Soyrizo", is about food and disparity, presented as absurdity, through humor.
Jonatan Lopez: We are all shades of BROWN.
What IS performance art, ANYWAY?
Emily Sloan: Performance art is medium-specific art with the medium being the body.
Jonatan Lopez: The definition of performance art can be as broad as the definition of art itself. It keeps reinventing it self. I see it as much stronger way of communicating a concept, it can also serve as personal and social transformation, for example, some of my performances become social experiments through which the audience is confronted with current political and moral issues worthy of debate. Through the dialogue that my pieces open, I get to learn valuable things from people's opinions and express my own. That helps me grow in a personal level and hopefully it opens people minds to new ideas as well. Performance is real, performance is rebellion, confrontation, positive transformation, liberation, experimentation. Some young performance artists focus on extremely mundane actions of our daily life, such as washing your hair or taking a bath, highlighting them as meaningful rituals, which leads audiences to question. Is this really, really performance art? And I think that’s the beauty of it, any action can be performance art. I give kudos to this new wave of artists for rebelling to previous notions of the definition of this medium. And though theater and performance art at times blend, they are two very distinct entities.
Nestor Topchy: Performance art is the frontier for sharing experience in a direct way via action performed live in real time and space, the last vestige and hold out of ritual, shamanism, absurdity, extreme expression and mystery in an increasingly calcified, contrived and straitjacketed condition forced upon us by contemporary consensus based culture. Performance art may remind us of our most human qualities and often challenges us in unexpected ways. It may even inspire us in ways we never imagined, and as catalyst for self reflection prompt a deeply personal poetry to enjoin the darkest most unexplored recesses of our undiscovered collective mind.
Brian McCord: Performance art for Stevie and Myself is an active integration of ourselves, with our concept, under immediate circumstances, for the observer. Its immediate work... Like crashing a forign concept car into our observers.
Emily Sloan: You won’t find “me” at this festival.
Jonatan Lopez: Sometimes people say that everything we are doing now has been done before and at times that is the case, but we are bring our own modern ideas to it. Society is different now. We give old concepts and ideas a new voice, even if we are just expressing who we are. Performance art just like society is always evolving, becoming more connected, more present and more eager to make sense of it self.
My two cents: I got a little glimpse here and there of the inner workings of this festival and I just want to say: Kelly Alison is the arms and legs of this operation and this festival never would have happened without her, If you see her there, give her a big high five!! She receives the PERFORMANCE ART HOUSTON VOLUNTEER AWARD for 2012.
LIST OF ARTISTS:
International artists include Myk Henry (Ireland), Elena Nestorova (Finland), Gim Gwang Cheol (South Korea), Orion Maxted (London), John Boehme and Natali Leduc (Canada), Marcus Vinicius (Brazil), Rodney Dickson (Northern Ireland), Non Grata (Estonia), Ville-Karel (Estonia) and 1KA (France)
National artists include Nyugen E. Smith (New Jersey), Jamie McMurry (Los Angeles), Jill Pangallo (New York), Patrick Lichty (Chicago) and a diverse collection of local artists including The Art Guys, Jim Pirtle, Nestor Topchy, Julia Wallace, Jonatan Lopez, Rahul Mitra, Emily Sloan, Daniel Adame, Nancy Douthey, Brian and Stevie McCord and Daniel-Kayne.
Event dates and locations:
● Symposium at CAMH. Wednesday March 7, 2-4pm. Cullen Educational Resource Center, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston 5216 Montrose Blvd. 77006. www.camh.org
● Performances at DiverseWorks. Thursday, March 8, 7-11pm. 1117 E. Freeway 77022. www.diverseworks.org
● Performances at AvantGarden. Friday, March 9, 7-11pm. 411 Westheimer, 77006. www.avantgardenhouston.com
● Artist Reception at AvantGarden. Friday, March 9, 11pm-2am. 411 Westheimer, 77006. www.avantgardenhouston.com
Tickets are $30 to attend all events, or $12 per performance event.
To contribute to the fundraising campaign please visit www.indiegogo.com/Lone-Star-Performance-Explosion