BWW Reviews: MAGICAL Goes Beyond the Illusion at New York Live Arts 1/15-1/19
As I arrived at New York Live Arts on Friday evening, it was clear that the audience assembled to watch Anne Juren and Annie Dorsen's collaborative work, MAGICAL, had not stumbled upon this performance in an act of whimsy. The lobby was informed, buzzing with anticipation, and as the performance began, I could feel the Women's Studies adherents around me creeping toward The Edges of their seats. I was prepared for an evening of angry and lustful nostalgia for unshaved armpits and the advent of birth control. What I experienced, however, was a visceral reaction to the quality of the performance; a clever disguise for the underlying cerebrally inspired work of performance art.
The curtain opened on performer Annie Juren and director Anne Dorsen's MAGICAL to reveal a smaller set of white curtains framing the center of the stage. Between them a copper cube scuttled about, driven by an unknown force within. A distorted recording of Carolee Schneemann's thoughts on her 1975 work Interior Scroll bled spottily through the speakers. Wearing a loose-fitting housedress and standing behind a table covered in kitchen utensils, performer Anne Juren launched a combination parody and recount of Martha Rosler's short film Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975). In Rosler's no-nonsense fashion, Juren lifted each utensil, called out its name and proceeded to demonstrate each utensil's use with unusual fervor, bordering on violence. The audience laughed nervously, not sure whether Juren was hilarious or dangerous as she, with expression of sly self-consciousness on her face, created the seamless illusion of funneling breast milk into a glass and drinking it, changing a cracked egg into a bra, and making salt fall, almost as if by accident, from midair.