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Robert Wilson to revisit '77 L.A. performance piece at REDCAT

August 18, 2011 |  6:00 am

Robert Wilson in 1977 `Patio' performance
Robert Wilson will go time-traveling in L.A. in January, doubling back to 1977, when the avant-garde theater eminence gave his first Los Angeles performance, “I Was Sitting On My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating.”

Wilson's co-director/co-performer will be Lucinda Childs, who was also part of that '77 one-nighter at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. Childs had been featured in Wilson's breakthrough 1976 production of the Philip Glass opera "Einstein on the Beach." Together, they'll offer 11 performances of what REDCAT describes as an attempt to “reinvent” the “Patio” piece “and link it solidly with the art of our time.”

“Patio” is part of a newly announced performance festival tied to Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. The Getty-generated project begins Oct. 1 and runs through March, with scores of venues and cultural institutions throughout the region examining all things Angeleno and artistic pertaining to that era.

The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival runs Jan. 19-29, and will include more than 20 events or installations –- among them a previously announced new “soundscape installation” at Cal State Long Beach’s art museum of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe,” an update of his infamous 1975 double-albumful of noise, “Metal Machine Music.”



Wilson and Childs will hold forth at REDCAT from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5, with specific performance dates to be announced. Stay tuned to Culture Monster for a post coming soon about Thursday’s announcement of REDCAT’s 2011 fall season of performance, media and visual art. 

The title of Wilson’s piece is also the opening line. Wilson soloed in the first half, followed by Childs, who spoke many of the same words. The last line of each segment was “A lot of nerve.”

Also involved, according to The Times’ 1977 account, were a wine glass, a telephone, projections and a recording of a Sousa march.  There was also a yell from the back of the hall, “TCA 837, your lights are on,” but our reviewer, Dan Sullivan, didn't say whether that was a heckler or a plant. Sullivan's summation: "We leave, not enraged, not enraptured. A voice is heard in the mind. Andy Warhol's, when asked what he thought of the 1970s: `I like them because they're so empty.'"

  Judy Chicago at MOCA in 2007 Another festival blast from the past – literally -- will come from Judy Chicago (pictured), who will revisit and update “Atmospheres,” works involving smoke, pyrotechnics and the artist herself, which were first presented at beaches, parks and museums in Southern California and Fresno in 1969-70. It’s part of a “Performance at Pomona” program that also will include recreations of 1971 pieces by James Turrell and John White, the latter also involving the Pomona College football team.

Also coming from Chicago (the artist, not the city) is a recreation of “Disappearing Environments,” a 1966 piece in which she, Lloyd Hamrol and Eric Orr created temporary public sculptures out of 37 tons of dry ice.

Under the auspices of West of Rome Public Art, Andrea Fraser, Mike Kelley and Vaginal Davis will combine for “Trilogy,” a series of new performances inspired by the Los Angeles Woman’s Building, a 1970s fulcrum of feminist art.

For the 12-year-old boy in all of us (women included, one suspects), the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena will present “Accidents in Abstract Painting,” in which Richard Jackson will load a large-scale model airplane with paint and crash it into a wall.

Showing it bears no hard feelings over “Spray Paint LACMA,” the 1972 street-art/performance maneuver in which members of the Latino art collective Asco claimed ownership of what they viewed as an exclusionary museum by signing their names on it,  the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will team with UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center and Fowler Museum to commission a new mural by one of the signees, Willie Herron. The mural will pay homage to another 1972 Asco performance, “Walking Mural.” 

The Watts Towers Art Center will put on a one-day event, “Civic Virtue: Watts Here and Now,” with spoken word, jazz and sculpture “in the spirit” of past works by Noah Purifoy, Judson Powell and John Outterbridge, leading artists identified with the art center.

The festival will jump to the Internet with “Kaleidoscope of Pacific Standard Time,” in which Julie Lazar and L.A. Freewaves will set up an online radio site for historical and newly commissioned broadcasts by California artists. MOCA, meanwhile, plans two evenings of West Coast punk rock and performance art.  Specific dates and times for events will be forthcoming.

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-- Mike Boehm

Photos: Robert Wilson in PATIO, 1977 (top); Judy Chicago at MOCA in 2007. Credits: © Estate of Horst P. Horst / Art + Commerce (Wilson); Beatrice de Gea/Los Angeles Times (Chicago).

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