The Art that is New York City

December 18th, 2011

Careful where you sit

Posted by Spencer Kim in Kim, Reviews    

After visiting the Fluxus Gallery and BAM, attending more traditional art performances, namely the Tokyo String Quartet and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, was a treat in itself. The familiar harmonies of stringed, wind, and percussion instruments were a welcome change from the funky, bizarre, and abstract cacophonies at BAM and the Fluxus Gallery. The Tokyo String Quartet and Orchestre Revolutionnaire performances were beautiful and enthralling, drawing in audiences with masterful musical techniques and graceful interpretations of pieces. The music selection ranged from Beethoven to Bartók, from the conventional to the more revolutionary. Each venue offered its own “flavor,” shaping the audience’s experience of the performances through the space in which the pieces were performed.

The 92nd Street YMCA offered the most intimacy without discomfort. The Tokyo String Quartet performance was far more intimate than the Carnegie Hall performance as it the 92nd Street theatre was a small auditorium with wide aisles, low seats, and a large stage. Being a small auditorium with spacious seats close to the stage, the 92nd Street YMCA allowed for its audience get close to the performers, not to one another. On the other hand, the Carnegie Hall auditorium offered little in terms of personal space as well as a view.  Unlike the 92nd Street YMCA, the seats were dense and far from the performers.

Proximity to the stage plays a critical role in the experience of watching a performance. The close distance at the YMCA allowed for the audience to view the performers’ actions and techniques, adding an extra dimension to the performance. While the acoustics at Carnegie Hall were fantastic, the distance of the nosebleed seats from the stage detracted from my overall enjoyment of the experience.

December 13th, 2011

I will survive . . . through this performance.

Posted by Spencer Kim in Kim, Reviews, Uncategorized    

The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s performance of I Don’t Believe in Outer Space was surreal to say the least. An incoherent (almost nonexistent) plot, bizarre characters, and a setting that looked like it was literally out of this world, made this performance difficult to follow. Although the performance was highly unconventional compared to traditional theater in terms of acting, plot, and staging, it was nevertheless an enjoyable and thought provoking experience.

At first, I Don’t Believe in Outer Space appears to have no unifying theme. It appears random, disorganized and spontaneous, following the First Law of Thermodynamics by increasing in disorder as the performance continues. However, hints of motifs and themes are revealed throughout the play. For example, the 1970’s disco song “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor is used as a motif and unifies I Don’t Believe in Outer Space. In the original song, Gloria Gaynor describes her ability to “survive,” and live as an independent woman despite heartbreak in an edgy, powerful, and upbeat manner. In the BAM performance, the lyrics from “I Will Survive” are recited in different contexts, resulting in some peculiar and even hilarious moments. Other motifs are used as well, such as a man holding a large Jack of Spades, an East-Asian woman, the theme of disorder, and others. Due to the vague and ambiguous nature of the play, comedy rather than dialogue is heavily used to convey story arcs within the play. This is a relief as the performance can be difficult to appreciate without an understanding of the references made in the play. The humor is simple and slap-stick; in one scene an actor playfully picks up and drops the balls present on stage. He does this continuously with no apparent point.

In fact, there appears to be no apparent point to this play. One can try to make sense of what they saw, but the entire performance seems to have no direction but in every which way. Perhaps the performance was simply that, something which is purposely left entirely open to interpretation. Regardless of whatever objective or existential meaning the performance might have tried to convey, the result is a crazy, dreamlike (almost nightmarish), but nevertheless oddly captivating piece, which lingers in one’s thoughts long after the play is over.

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