BWW Review: SUSAN MARSHALL Talks, and Talks, and Talks about Color
You've been here before. Someone is giving a report on something that might have once held interest but through virtue of repetition, perfunctory execution, and obsession with minutiae that thing has become prosaic at best. Prosaic is the optimal description for this extended talkfest that Susan Marshall has cobbled together with visual artist Suzanne Bocanegra and composer Jason Treuting. The best thing one could say about "Chromatic" - I attended the June 24th performance at The Kitchen - is that it was colorful. Colorful in the most obvious way: with colored pieces of paper, color swatches, colored tiles, colored slides, talk of color, colored lights, and monochromatic articles of clothing. Actually, that might be the best way to describe the lecture: monochromatic; color mixing never occurred. I can already hear your confusion: "This is supposed to be a dance review and yet he refers to it as a lecture." Welcome to the world of democratic art where you can call anything - including running back and forth while banging tiles, or throwing paper in the air, or putting on clothing and taking it off, or striking poses - dance. Actually the running and pose striking qualify as dance if only because they were the only examples of movement in response to meter.
Have you ever ripped hair out of your face in order to stay awake? I did this repeatedly on Friday night. Normally I would think twice about committing such a sentence to paper but when presented with something as lazy as this non-event I can't bother with mincing words. It is entirely possible to equivocate so as to lend greater meaning to "Chromatic". We have all met people who do such things: rave about the intellectual bravery of a solo dancer whose entire performance consists of sleeping onstage for half an hour; declaring that staring out into the audience without moving or speaking for an hour is the next coming of Christ; chortle as a man and woman throw scraps of colored paper into the air after having executed three minutes of minimal patterned movement. That last bit actually happened and it felt as dishonest to experience as it feels to read. I do understand that as human beings we are conditioned to look for greater meaning, but let's acknowledge that sometimes things simply are what they are. Sometimes there is no other meaning beyond "the slop we've been served is slop". I could describe in exquisite detail everything that happened at last night's performance but I'd rather stop thinking about it. After watching this piece, I did not feel angry; I felt tired, which is far worse. I believe that Susan Marshall deliberately set out to test the boundaries of how dull she could be. In that, she and her colleagues did not fail.
Photo Credit: Paula Court