The results of the election have churned up a tsunami of cultural backlash aimed at the incoming Trump administration’s rhetoric of hatred and intolerance (or, in at least one case, in support of it). There’s a lot of doom and gloom right now– hate crimes are on the rise as our new political era continues to take shape with increasingly horrifying cabinet appointments, from a conspiracy theory-touting Islamophobe as Secretary of Defense to a Department of Energy head who once called for the agency’s abolishment– even so, artists and cultural figures have banded together to express their dismay.
Some, like the Instagram campaign and public protest #DearIvanka, have infused political action with artsy weirdness, while others have just continued making the art they always have, the only difference being that the injustices they’re concerned with– the patriarchy, white supremacy, xenophobia– have seen something of a comeback as some Americans are once again proud to wear their prejudices on their sleeves (or Twitter feeds).
An attendee of “The Hidden Valley” over the weekend looks on at a performance by Wild Torus (Photo: Nicole Disser)
If you’ve been to Wild Torus events before, it’s likely you know all about their marathon performance-art benders and messy parties. Guests are necessarily a part of the events involving immense creation and destruction within the same night (or 48-hour marathon). My first Torus encounter was a mind-jostling, brain-crushing, chaotic mess. It was a crush of humanity, all soaked in sweat, and stuck with gloopy, sticky materials, under an onslaught of hypnotic drumming, loud-as-hell discordant synth drone, and anything and everything you can imagine.
Wild Torus at the Torus_Porta last year (photo: Nicole Disser)
Brooklyn performance art duo Wild Torus are known for their wild, orgiastic, and messy shows, which often get the audience involved. They’ve always been a bit extreme, but found themselves in a situation that shocked even them when, in April, a performance art festival they did with Estonian performance collective Non Grata at East Williamsburg space The Paper Box was shut down mid-show without warning.
Mike Berlant (aka Vlady VØz Tokk, one half of Wild Torus along with Amy Mathis / Mág Ne Tá) recounted their experience on Facebook, in a post that was shared over 50 times and led to many in the surrounding arts community leaving bad reviews of the venue (including bad experiences some organizers had with other shows done there) and calling for it to be blacklisted. A month later, Wild Torus found themselves being sued by Paper Box for defamation and for “trashing” the space. They say they weren’t informed of the suit until the New York Post called them for comment for a piece they wrote about it.
Erin Markey: Humping A Gatorade Bottle At The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street, West Village. 9:30pm. $15 plus a two drink minimum. More info here.
Performance artist/comedian/writer/singer/actress/my friend Erin Markey is always a pleasure to watch onstage. Her cabaret shows at The Duplex and Joe’s Pub are full of strange and compelling life stories, odd characters, impressive voice work, jokes you might not realize are hilarious until five seconds after they’re told, and some very nice singing. This show, with the truly memorable subtitle of Humping a Gatorade Bottle, is sure to be no less wonderful and intriguing, in addition to being a “heartwarming crossfit program.” Now that’s what I call one-stop shopping.
Wednesdays With A “W”: Wormholes At The City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg. 7pm. $7. More info here.
This is the second iteration of a monthly “art party,” sporting a whimsical theme and featuring a slew of performances from artists of all disciplines, including live painting, interactive performance art, a human canvas, a bug petting zoo, and an alien experiment. Naturally eschewing any average theme for an event, this evening is themed for wormholes. You heard that right. Whether it be actual worms digging holes or folks traveling through space and time or something else entirely, expect excitement and unusual sights at every turn.
Would you rather spend a short evening watching stuff in a bar or dedicate your whole day to the wildest and most visceral of performance art? This week, you can do both.
Where The Wild Things Are 8 At Bizarre Bushwick, 12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick. 9pm; $7-20 suggested donation. More info here.
Party moguls Brooklyn Wildlife present the eighth edition of their evening variety show at Bizarre Bar, home to all shapes and sizes of variety show. At any given moment, you can catch “aggro” raps by Stonehenge Parnhashnakovsky, beats by Star Falcon and Rob Interface, performance art poetry by Terminal Intrusion (Nyssa Frank, owner of The Living Gallery), burlesque, and more. The event asks attendees to wear a costume from a childhood story, a mascot outfit, or just to come half naked. So, suit up. Or down. More →
I’m not gonna lie, when I heard Wild Torus— the aggressively psychedelic Bushwick performance art duo– would be hosting their “most ambitious event yet” this weekend, I imagined a sweaty, gyrating orgy of disembodied tentacles coated in globs of indecipherable goo, or “Torus Juice” as it’s known (it’s actually corn syrup). Not exactly gallery material. When I first encountered Wild Torus’ cult-like “digital spirituality” rituals at their Bushwick home base, Torus Portus, I had never seen anything like it– and I haven’t seen anything to match it since.
(Photo: Bizarre the film, directed by Etienne Faure and co-produced by Jean-Stephane Sauvaire
A new feature film based loosely on Bizarre, the splendidly raunchy Bushwick performance space and bar, doesn’t exaggerate for the sake of shock value. If anything, it’s a little watered down from reality, according to its owner.
“[The filmmaker] couldn’t put the craziest stuff in the film because I think he didn’t want to maybe shock too much,” owner Jean-Stephane Sauvaire explained. “But I like that many of the regular performers are in the film– it really gives a picture of the different sensibilities and different performers, and at the same time you feel they are all the same spirit.” More →