ANNE JUREN AND ANNIE DORSEN: MAGICAL
New York Live Arts, Bessie Schönberg Theater
219 West 19th St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
January 17-18, 7:30, and January 19, 6:00, $30
In Magical, Anne Juren and Annie Dorsen recontextualize five seminal works in the history of feminist performance art, restaging them as theatrical entertainment for the twenty-first century. New Yorker Dorsen (cocreator of Passing Strange) and the Vienna-based Juren (founder of Wiener Tanz-und Kunstbewegung), who previously collaborated on Pièce Sans Paroles, explore ideas of illusion and transformation as Juren brings together the five radical pieces, which all date from between 1964 and 1975, taking them out of the avant-garde art gallery world and into a respected performance venue dedicated to movement artistry. They also add numerous magic tricks, designed by Steve Cuiffo, that play with reality and spectators’ perception. “Perhaps our generation has gotten a little comfortable inside the trap,” Dorsen tells Olivia Jane Smith in the program notes. “Have we won the right to self-exploit? Or self-objectivize?” The solo piece examines these questions and more in five re-creations, beginning with Carolee Schneeman’s Interior Scroll, in which Schneeman’s voice can be heard in a moving gold box, reading text that, back in 1975, came out of her vagina. Juren next appears in a kitchen as she reimagines Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, picking up a knife and making violent motions and exposing a breast and filling a cup with milk. She then takes on Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, using scissors to snip away pieces of her dress and undergarments until she is naked, then wraps part of the dress around her face and, as Marina Abramović did in Freeing the Body, starts dancing wildly, but this time to loud music that includes Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” in which Robert Plant famously screams, “Way down inside.” After a film clip of Schneeman’s Meat Joy, Juren returns to Interior Scroll, pulling surprising things out of her vagina that deal with power, further exerting her control over the proceedings. It’s a tour-de-force sixty minutes that both honors those performance artists who came before her and forces the audience to consider issues of voyeurism, nudity, and the continually changing role of women in society. Back in the ’60s, Virginia Slims might have proclaimed, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” but Magical confirms what we all know: There’s still a long way to go. Magical continues at New York Live Arts through January 19 as part of PS 122’s Coil festival. The January 17 performance will be proceeded at 6:30 by the Come Early Conversation “The Feminist Performance Art Canon,” while the January 18 show will be followed by the Stay Late Discussion “Strategies of Illusion and Transformation in Modern Performance,” with Vallejo Gantner and Carla Peterson. Juren and Dorsen will also host a Shared Practice class on January 19 at 1:30 involving trance and improvisation in choreography.