Performance Club: What We Saw at the Armory
Monday, February 22, 2010
There's nothing like debating the nuances of a show beneath the moldering head of a taxidermied wolverine.
(At least I think it was a wolverine.)
The Park Avenue Armory is a spooky and magical place. It's not easy for art to hold its own in a building with so much history and flair. Anybody remember the largely stillborn performances held there during the last Whitney Biennial? I thought of them several times Friday, because it seems like Moving Theater's Armory Show managed to do what many of those works couldn't: have a conversation with the space. Themes of war and masculinity, of our relationship to the daunting past and ephemeral present, skidded by in a series of dance-theater and pure dance vignettes. These ran the gamut from ballet to breaking to pop music videos, and were augmented by live video, and the presence of the International Contemporary Ensemble.
Some aspects of Armory Show don't feel completely sorted out, and Ryan Kelly and Brennan Gerard, its creators, occasionally seem to lose their nerve, inserting coy winks at their own explorations or retreating into safe conceptual ground. But I think that's to be expected; they're taking a big step with this piece, which was created during their lengthy residency at the Armory.
I loved the sense of disreputable pageantry. I loved the explosion of a queer aesthetic within this uber-manly realm. I loved how sinister it felt at turns, and frivolous at others, and messy, as if the structure were about to spin out of control. As one P.Clubber, Meg, put it, "I didn't always have a handle on what exactly the performers were about, but I was always interested."