RELATIONAL STALINISM: THE MUSICAL
Running across seven spaces at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, “Relational Stalinism: The Musical” was an assemblage of eleven different performances enacted in a two-hour cycle over the course of the exhibition. Directed by me, the performance was enacted and developed with a diverse troupe of dancers, actors, singers, and improvisers.
Many different modes of performance cohabitated in the institution, mixing inscrutable role-play scenarios, prog-rock micro-dance (for the eyelids), physical theater, exhausting feats of reading in 7/4 time, operatic luggage handling, call center language-torture games, and teary-eyed theoretical soliloquy, interspersed with satire of the current state of performance within the visual arts.
A subsequent condensed version for the stage was presented in 2016 at the Liverpool Biennial and Playground festival in Leuven, Belgium.
In opposition to the strangling of museum spaces worldwide by rampant immaterial kudzu, i.e., Post-French Post-Conceptual Dance, Dance-We-Can’t-Call-Dance, Po-Faced Minimalism, Feel-Good Participatory Glibbery (a.k.a. Too Many Seagulls), and Performance with no qualities whatsoever aside from its leeching of court-approved historical referents (a.k.a. Fancy Shoulder Piggybacking), the breed of Relational Stalinism arose in a Theater Internment Facility in Preoccupied Benelux in the late Twenty-Teens. The primary tenets of Relational Stalinism are: Emboldening Confusion, Logocratic Exuberance, and Antic Behaviorism. Relational Stalinist works use a slippery iron fist to unbutton the viewer’s buggy of self and catapult her into a realm of truths only palpable through higher forms of irrationality.
This advanced breed of world-bending adopts the degree-zero performance palette as a constraint (performers, in a room, that’s it), but pushes it out of monochrome and into a pubotany of deviously vibrant offshoots which stretch participants’ language and behavior in the service of invention.