Spot On at TBA: Unmeasured response

Keith Hennessy and the End Times

Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero/Photo by G.K Wilson

By Patrick Collier

The end is nigh!

Lingering, nay, persistent pangs of millennialism. Or, my nihilism. And by “my” I mean “our.”

I have a bag of protein bars and a couple nutrition drinks but no coffee in this hotel room. I make an accounting of this because the night I write this I have witnessed what may be as close to the End Times as we’re going to get, which, at least in art historical terms, is the attempt to not repeat ourselves into mundanity.

There seems to be a consensus: There is nothing left to say except that there is nothing left to say. Oh! rail as we might, we might well rail. And then recoil back to lingering hope and the history lesson we choose to ignore: although it has endured, art has yet to prevail.

This latter aspect, this naïveté, may very well be what makes the artists and their audience in the early part of the previous century resonate with us today. The stormtroopers are not quite at the door, and while we are aware that the boots have come a-stompin’ in the past, we think we have a leg up, and if we tell the powers-that-be we know what their little game is, this will somehow stop them from bashing in the heads of the preacher and choir.

Funny thing is, it doesn’t matter what choir. Both ends of the political spectrum are equally convinced of the other’s fundamental (and the cause of all the trouble, therefore) flaws. Stress on the word “fundamental,” as in “ism.” As in “ism a chance in hell” of convincing the other they’re misguided.

The not so humorous is the chaos that ensues, meaning that within one camp, the other’s message is nearly unintelligible. Brusk or brusque, and the remorse of imagery: I so wish I were an elephant and right, but I’m not, and therefore that other ideology seems to have an unfair advantage in image and concept. Letting metaphor get the better of us, art encourages such docility.

My, my, my! Why such a mood?

Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero’s “Turbulence (a dance about the economy)” is reason enough.


A dance, a happening, a debauch; improvisational, charismatic and ecstatic, and therefore, infused by the orgasmic spirit: I might try to describe what I saw and heard as a way to prepare a person interested in seeing the performance, yet I doubt specifics will matter because little will remain consistent, most likely. Amplified music and sound, dicks, tits and buttholes, running, crawling, spasming, shivering, climbing, dry humping, swinging, throwing, strolling hand-in-hand, singing, proselytizing…

Perhaps Hennessey, surrounded by acolytes, thought he needed to lecture the audience about the state of our economy — or more accurately, the state of the State — how it got to the place it has, and how we are all complicit — even artists— in the “structures of violence.” Fortunately, this was toward the end of the performance, after the references to illness, lucre, Abu Ghraib and the Occupy Movement had been inserted into the otherwise cacophonous, chaotic and immersive (no seat was safe) experience. I am, however, grateful for his phrase, “queer the space,” for it might be the best descriptive of the overall intent, that being to shake us out of our complacency.

Another performer in a pink beehive wig improvises a drag outfit from the gold-sequined hoods from the Abu Ghraib interval. From his barely understandable (sound mixing issues) monologue I discern something about police brutality, and then: “There is no one nowhere who knows what to do with us.”

And what scares me is that this is most likely a conceit.

In that complicity is a hard pill to swallow, a psychosis makes for a good stand-in. Paranoid, persecuted and messianic, try as we might, St. Vitus allows for no catharsis. With each heavy foot fall and flashing light on stage, I startle just a little, almost certain THEY are at the door and the party is about to be shut down with utmost authority.

A woman squats and pisses herself.

One Response.

  1. Ten Mile says:

    Nerve overcomes talent, is that it?

    Patrick, I hope someone else pays the admission fees for you.

Comments are closed.

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