News and Notes: They party hard in LA and other subjects

They'll be reprising this Marina Abramovic piece in LA.

I love a good arts world dust-up. This edition of news and notes has a few of those, including one that involves naked bodies inside fake skeletons, and also some well-deserved awards!

Artist/provocateur Marina Abramovic has designed the “entertainment” for a fundraiser at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art. According to Art Info, its young “performers will spend three hours with their their heads protruding through the gala’s tabletops, kneeling on Lazy Susans below to slowly rotate in circles while maintaining eye contact with guests. Other performers will lay nude on tables with fake skeletons on top of them, recreating Abramovic’s famous “Nude With Skeleton” performance, as reperformers did at her MoMA retrospective. Participants will be paid $150 and receive a one-year MOCA membership.” Is Abramovic simply creating an “artistic” spectacle or is she commenting on the excess of the fundraiser itself? I have no idea, but eminent choreographer Yvonne Rainer calls it a “grotesque spectacle” in her letter to the museum’s Jeffrey Deitch: “An exhibition is one thing — again, this is not a critique of Abramovic’s work in general — but titillation for wealthy donor/diners as a means of raising money is another.”

Coincidentally, Rainer will speak at PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson, tomorrow (Thursday) night, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Her lecture: “Where’s the Passion? Where’s the Politics? or How I  Became Interested in Impersonating, Approximating, and End Running Around My Selves and Others’,  and Where Do I Look When You’re Looking At Me?”  On a personal note, I once had the opportunity to watch Rainer teach her famous “Trio A” to two dancers (one of them Linda K. Johnson), and the experience was incredible. Admission is free.

While I’m on the subject of dance, Oregon dance folk have received two dance awards in the past week or so. Paul King and Walter Jaffe of White Bird received the  2012 William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellencef rom the national Association of Performing Arts Presenters, joining such previous winners as the 92nd Ave. Y, the Oregon Bach Festival and Mark Russell’s Under the Radar festival. And Northwest Dance Project and its commissioned work by Ihsan Rustem won the Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Competition.

It takes just a moment or two of informal reporting in the theater world to realize that one of its great economic contradictions is that actors, by and large, are the 99 percent of the art form. Diane Ragsdale addresses this situation in a post on her ArtsJournal blog, Jumper, that suggests several changes to business as usual. Here’s one of them: “What if investments in the buildings, administrative budgets, and salaries of full-time staff of theaters were matched with a relative increase in artistic budgets and, specifically, wages or fees paid to artists?”

Though I appreciate Michael Kaiser’s respect for arts criticism and his concern that the platforms that paid for it are disappearing and so the critics, his post on Huffington Post is pretty problematic, as the comment thread almost instantly reveals. It concludes: No one critic should be deemed the arbiter of good taste in any market and it is wonderful that people now have an opportunity to express their feelings about a work of art. But great art must not be measured by a popularity contest. Otherwise the art that appeals to the lowest common denominator will always be deemed the best.

Edward P. Davee, who works for the audio-visual department at Reed College, has received the 2012 Oregon Media Arts Fellowship, which involves a cash award of $15,000. That will help fund a film called “Lost Division,” about the return of thee soldiers to a World War II. Davee’s “How the Fire Fell,” about the Brides of Christ religious cult active in Corvallis in 1903, will screen at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in Whitsell Auditorium as part of the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival.

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