Here we are with the third day of performances that I’ve surveilled at Encuentro. And what a day it was!
Today’s performances were all at DETUCH, the theater department at the University of Chile. There was the Lonely Painter Project’s Make; José Pepe Álvarez Colón’s La Mamutcandungo (fragment); Orgy Punk/GRUPO D3 CHOK3’s Tear Gas Democracy; Honor Ford Smith (with Anique Jordan, Hannah Town Cultural Group, Kara Springer, Camille Turner & Nicosia Shakes)’s: Song for the Beloved; Keijaun Thomas’s Distance Is Not Separation; Karina Prudencio’s Kalapurca; and Julio Pantoja and Adriana Guerrero’s Tucumán Kills Me. Action #3 “The Event”.
I’ll start with a highlight: Make. I observed four performers making bread, and acting out various symbolic roles as well as technical food-preparation roles. There was often singing while they worked. Two basic observations: the singing was really great. Even us stormtroopers don’t have hearts of stone! Two: at the end, one of the artists gave me one of the pieces of bread. A bribe to help ensure a good review? Of course. But, as a member of the State, I am as corrupt as the next authority (I keep forgetting if I’m supposed to say that out loud?), so it worked! I am happy to have my bread, and because of that, I fully endorse everything the Lonely Painter Project did. They’ve got my stamp of pro-State approval. It was also nice of them to give bread out to everyone else so their bribe to me wouldn’t look totally obvious.
Even if they didn’t bribe me, one reason I approve of them is that they did everything out in the open where I could easily spy on them, as all artists should. Some of the other artists were in closed theaters or rooms, making life difficult for this erstwhile surveillant. One good example was Song for the Beloved, which had some guards working the door, making sure people obeyed the rules–a sentiment with which I am entirely in agreement. The guards seemed very sweet on the surface, but you could tell that underneath they were rock-hard roustabouts! So instead of going in, I just took this shot from the doorway. This leaves me out in the cold when it comes to any of the specific rebellious dangers present in this work, but I think we can assume that it must be dangerous indeed to have ferocious bouncers working the doorway, keeping it secret from the State’s prying eye.
I also didn’t see much of Mamutcandungo, which was in a traditional theater-stage setting. What I did see was a projected screen of text–possibly another attempt at sending a subliminal code. The only good thing about this is that perhaps it means that yesterday’s projected code (del Re’s) failed to work, and so this was the second attempt. There was also somebody on stage but I couldn’t make him out. I checked out the theater later to see the aftermath, and there was tons of white powder on stage–as there also was in a few other performances tonight. Perhaps this white powder was some sort of intentional link between all the performances–but if so, what is it? A subconscious desire for cocaine? For a snowy winter? For shiny white armor like mine?
Keijaun Thomas’s performance was much easier to get a view of, since there were three sets of doors open all the time. At least he’s not trying to hide anything. As for the performance itself, I condemn it wholeheartedly. First of all, he didn’t give me any free stuff! Secondly, it was pretty much the definition of artist as agent of chaos, with Thomas dancing naked, or in wild costumes and make-up, sowing disorder wherever he went with his words and deeds. This is exactly what cannot be countenanced by the State. Everything must have its place, and that can’t happen if people just act however they want, or think whatever they want. I do appreciate the fact that he had a ton of brown paper bags laid out in a grid: it shows that he has an innate sympathy for order, which, if nurtured, could grow into something the State can use after all.
Kalapurca seemed pretty sedate by comparison. From what I could see (there were several performances going on at this point and I had to shuttle back and forth between them), the artist basically sat in a traditional costume in front of a projected backdrop. Given that the traditional is connected to conservatism, which is in turn connected to protecting the State, that’s all well and good. I’m sure there’s a seditious message in there though–perhaps she is trying to advocate for sit-ins? If so, I can hardly support that, how much more seditious could you get? Also, I understand this was also food-related, but I didn’t get any free stuff! Perhaps others did when I wasn’t there, but what about me?!?! Artists–learn from the lessons of these performances–make sure you’ve got free stuff, and stuff in a grid, if you want a good review!
“The Event” was another theatrical setting, which again isn’t as amenable to spying as the other locations. From what I saw, there was a slideshow of projected images and a box of some kind. Perhaps with this piece we can start a new initiative–for any of you who saw it, write in and tell me why you think it was dangerous to the State and symptomatic of artists’ tendency towards disruption. By having you come up with the answer, instead of me spoonfeeding it to you, it proves that you have been listening closely and are truly processing the information. You can add comments to this blog post, add comments to my Facebook page, or email me at email@example.com. Speaking of which, if you’ve taken any pictures of me this week, send me a copy of them, too!
Finally we end up with Tear Gas Democracy, my new favorite performance of all time. First, there were several women in matching uniforms–of course, uniformity in uniforms is always a plus, and it leads me to believe they’re not long for the rebellion: they are happy being anonymous, the same as everyone else. There was also a projected image of some authority figures, which is all well and good too. But outside is where the greatness begins. After the women stamped their brooms up and down, and a shaman-looking figure lit some circles on the ground, they lit what I assume were chili peppers, then put them out, sending billowing clouds of pepper gas all over the back courtyard, and soon throughout the entire building! It was fantastic! People were coughing violently outside (I’ll post video of this with the rest of the videos, next week), and even inside people were walking around with their faces covered. Artists gassing their own audience of artists? What could be better? It was a lovely thing to see artists using a weapon and tactic of the State on the people. Plus, they caused collateral damage to the people inside the building, not just to those watching in the patio. If they’re that good at collateral damage now, imagine what they’ll be able to do as they continue to practice! These artists will hopefully continue their training at enforced audience control, and surely jobs will be waiting for them at the State. We need more artists like this, already transformed half-way (or more!) into becoming The Man.
There was a very supportive audience at DETUCH tonight, happy to signal their empathy for my cause of peace through military-enforced order. Once again here are pictures of some of the people who wanted to photograph themselves with me (as a way of identifying themselves with my ethos), plus some more peace-signers who want to be clear about their support for my policies. Also, I forgot to mention yesterday that a few helpful members of the masses helped pick up some things that I dropped, which is great because while I am an agile and elite military agent, I’m no good at bending down to pick things up. And it happened again today: people picked up a few things for me, showing that they support what I do and want to do anything they can to help. Best of all was a woman who had me FaceTime with her young children, at least one of whom plans to be a stormtrooper one day. Young man, we welcome everyone to the ranks–you couldn’t choose a better profession than that of a faceless agent of the Empire!
I mentioned above that you can write in to explain why “The Event” is subversive and dangerous to the State. But let’s extend that to tomorrow’s performance event as well: Guillermo Gomez-Pena is giving a performance at the Teatro Nacional Chileno, which like the rest of the theater pieces will be very difficult for me to spy on without being noticed, especially since it’s a stand-alone performance. So, instead of me going as Corporal Outis, I’m going to crowd-source the surveillance! Here’s my mission to you: if you go to the performance tomorrow night, take notes afterwards, and let me know if he did anything you’d consider seditious or dangerous to the State. Then send me your theories, and I’ll post them here the next day. Secret Surveillers of the World, Unite!