Perform! Now!

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Saturday, July 25th, PERFORM! NOW! commenced on Chung King Road in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Pendulous rows of scarlet lanterns lit the streets and walkways for spectators who gathered to watch performances by more than 30 artists. It was the area’s first event featuring new visual and sound art performances; a collaborative effort on the part of 12 different Chinatown galleries. One of the more convoluted conceptual performances of the evening was by Lucas Murdiga, who had his art gallery debut in LA with (w)hole at Charlie James Gallery. Murdiga is a San Francisco artist who is known for pieces relating to behavioral science, deconstruction of the 5 senses, and control/submission as it influences or predicts the future. For (w)hole, the artist constructed 2 wooden cabinets resembling refrigerators, inside which were placed the refreshments that accompanied Saturday’s opening. Attached to the refrigerator doors were a rope and pulley system that connected to an apparatus in Murdiga’s mouth. Every time someone opened or closed the cabinet doors to get food, the ropes pulled the corners of Murdiga’s mouth into a smile. As the artist explained, his interest in animal behavior, particularly herding, motivated him to build the installation. Just as trainers use food as a reward for conditioning animals, Murdiga used drinks and hors d’oeuvres to influence audience participation. Further, Murdiga had a direct connection with viewers as their movement through the gallery also had a physical effect upon him whenever their actions forced his grin. Another aspect of the piece that pertained to control/submission was a wooden table on which participants could recline while Murdiga inserted a gloved finger in his or her mouth. The idea was for Murdiga to apply pressure to a point in the roof of the mouth–a spot known to calm a person who holds stress or tension in the jaw. While Murdiga gave the acupressure treatments to volunteers in the gallery, he gave vivid descriptions of other pertinent projects he has completed. He spoke about Muster Retrodiction at 667Shotwell, a project space in a San Francisco residential home. He also gave accounts of other projects, which are documented by large photographs on display at Charlie James Gallery through the 22nd of August.

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Another conceptual performance that touched on the self-reflective was Maura Brewer‘s Face Transplantation and Depression at Chung King Project. In her performance, Brewer played two characters; a public speaker/psychoanalyst who was holding a seminar on Face Transplantation and Depression, and the speaker’s satellite interviewee, artist Maura Brewer. Brewer projected video clips of herself answering questions asked by the psychoanalyst, who could empathize with her subject’s depression due to her previous experience enduring a face transplant. During the interview, Brewer exhibits all the classic symptoms of depression from binge eating to paranoia and self-destructive tendencies. Brewer’s strength is bringing sarcastic humor to the blunt and abrasive topics of disease and mental health.

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Sarcasm was no stranger to PERFORM! NOW! as Aaron Sandnes walked around with his flag that read, IF I RULED THE UNIVERSE I’D KILL TIME SO THIS GENOCIDE WOULD LAST FOREVER and John Kilduff made a statement on multi-tasking with his piece Let’s Paint TV in front of Jancar Gallery. In addition to painting on canvas, Kilduff simultaneously runs on a treadmill, blends drinks, cooks, and answers questions from the public. The show was interrupted by multiple power outages due to overloaded circuits at Jancar, which allowed for impromptu modifications that only a live performance can yield. You can see more live segments of Let’s Paint TV every weekday from 11am-12 noon on Stickam.com and even call in with questions for the artist!

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