my personal list of some of my favorite things that happened in 2013
1. Gob Squads Kitchen – Gob Squad (Germany/U.K.) – Usine C – Montreal, Quebec
The audience particpation show I have ever been to, and there’s a ton of it in this one. An incredible mix of live video and performance based on three of Warhol’s experimental films from the late 60’s. I was able to participate in the afternoon dress rehearsal and the watch the opening and both were exhilerating experiences that had me laughing, excited and close to tears by the end. Heads up Calgary and Vancouver this show is not to missed at High Performance Rodeo and PuSh.
2. Mira Corpora – Jeff Jackson – Two Dollar Radio Press
This book ended up on my radar because an e-mail from experimental NYC theatre company Radiohole telling me about the release. The description had me extremely interested and instantly buying it at Drawn & Quarterly and consuming it within weeks. I have trouble getting through books fast but this one I’m already excited to read again as it is astounding blend of journal, dream, nightmare, utopia and brutal coming of age tale. This is Jeff Jackson’s first novel but it makes me dearly wish I seen more of his work with Collapsible Giraffe as I found almost every moment of this book engaging and intense.
3. Upstream Color – Shane Caruth/U.S.A./2013
Many years ago I saw a film at TIFF called “Primer”, an extremely low budget indie film about a guy who invents a time machine of sorts. It was complex, bizarre and totally amazing. I thought Shane Caruth would explode after that film and it’s success but he was not heard from again until 9 years later. I found it on Netflix and watched it at 5:00 a.m. after a sleepless night and it was a blissful experience where I had no what was real or not. A gorgeous film about abduction, experimental, connection and spirituality (at least I think) that deserves multiple viewings and way more attention and discussions.
4. The Julie Ruin + The Punk Singer – New York City – Bowery Ballroom
Kathleen Hanna is on the most inspiring artists anywhere right now and it was amazing to see her play live after a lengthy hiatus. Seeing her with her new band at the intimate Bowery Ballroom in NYC was one of my favorite concerts of the year by far. While her full LP isn’t perfect it has a bunch of incredible songs that are diverse and have incredible range in emotion. The documentary “The Punk Singer” was fantastic as well, an incredibly well put together chronology of Kathleen’s life in Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and now The Julie Ruin.
5. Enlightened – U.S.A./2011-2013/Mike White + Laura Dern – HBO
Confusion time; this year I watched an astounding amount of television with continued interest in Breaking Bad, Girls, Downton Abby and new interest in Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and most recently Hannibal. But few shows surprised me and had me as emotionally involved on all levels as Enlightened the now cancelled HBO show created by Mike White and Laura Dern. A midlife crisis breakdown has never been so beautifully portrayed with Laura Dern showing how it’s done all the place. The supporting cast is as good on any show. I still dream of an impossible season 3 but am thankful that this exists and gives me hope that hope is not dead.
6. Farewell Cork – Cork Midsummer Festival/secret theatre – Cork, Ireland
Two years since creating FAREWELL with Dustin Harvey we still are extremely lucky to be touring this piece a couple times a year to various locations. This June we went to Cork, Ireland and were fantastically hosted by the Cork Midsummer festival. With an awesome technical team and fantastic space in a downtown shopping alley we had some of our best shows yet with audiences who shared their dreams of possible futures, pasts that they miss and passerby’s who had fun in the window. This show helps remind me why I love site specific work, how performance is about the offer and the potential it has to start a conversation. Looking forward to being at WinterLab in Victoria with Intrepid Theatre.
7. Spring Breakers + We Can’t Stop – U.S.A./Harmony Korine/2013
Excess was played with so much in 2013 it seemed like nothing or no one could go too far or be controversial. Then along came Rob Ford and his constantly amaizng string of mistakes and Miley Cyrus offensive performances. While much discussed and mostly disgusted by the general population they achieved an insane amount of popularity and both seemed to have the last laugh. This excessive behavior was summed up so well in “Spring Breakers” the most music video/Hollywood of Harmony Korine’s career. Yet this gorgeous film has seemed to be poking fun at the hedonist in all of us that just wants to have fun and let go. This basic lets-have-a-party-while-the-world-falls-apart philosophy is also the joy behind Miley Cyrus’s hit song of the summer that I couldn’t stop listening to.
8. Socially Engaged Art
On the other end of the scale I have become more and more curious about socially engaged art or social practice or relational aesthetics and it’s many other names. From reading the works of Grant Kester (“The One and the Many”), Claire Bishop, Pablo Helguera (“Education for Socially Engaged Art”) and the Creative Time book “Living as Form” I was inspired to work more in this realm. I have long been an admirer of Mammalian Diving reflex and this summer experience “Eat the Street” and while having difficult times understanding the point it was still unique and essential. The diversity of the projects taken on by artists all over the world, mostly working in non-artistic communities is one of the most inspiring fields of practice and research happening right now.
9. Janet Cardiff + George Bures Miller – AGO – Toronto, Ontario
I need to get out to a lot more visual art in 2014, I missed a lot of great exhibitions in both Montreal and Toronto but this gem on the 4th floor of the AGO was fantastic. A collection of various installations this Canadian duo has created over their many years was pure pleasure and actually fun to be around the usually annoying AGO crowd. The enclosed settings (the raining, the creepy memory house) were most effective at making me realize what design can do to ones senses and how fantastic it is be both a little scared and excited. I never wanted to leave.
10. Chorus II – Sasha Kleinplatz + company – Wants & Needs Danse – MAI – Montreal, Quebec
Best dance piece I saw this year, a almost perfect fusion of emotion, explosion, control, lights, set design, and otherworldly music. At times seemingly out of control and others a total private experience it seemed to light the entire room on fire and allow an unknown transformation to happen. High silver walls, rolling, astounding jumps, a gorgeous group of dancers and constant surprises added up to total bliss. I pray this gets a remount somewhere soon.