Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s “Strange Democracy: Border Wars”

Friday, 28 June, 2013
Pigott Theater

Blog Response by David Preciado

(See also Megan Hoetger’s Blog Response here.)

Photo by Jamie Lyons


“Radical discrimination!” yelled the woman, who resembled an Aztec warrior in an eagle headdress, fishnets, steel underwear and holding a sword. The woman came out of the theater around 7:30pm and addressed the crowd who anxiously waited for the performance outside by the stairs, much like a master of ceremonies. “Radical discrimination!” she kept yelling. The woman had power and did not hesitate reconfiguring the rules of theater. She prompted people without tickets to enter the theater first and suggested that those with tickets “fight” for their seats. “Radical discrimination” she called it, and those with tickets, those who spent money to view the performance were not guaranteed a space within the theater and those who did not purchase a ticket, either because of financial constraints or because the show sold out or because they left it to the last minute or some other reason, were granted access first.

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“Strange Democracy: Border Wars” by Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Friday, 28 June 2013
7:30 – 9:30 pm
Pigott Theater

Blog Response by Megan Hoetger

(See also David Preciado’s Blog Response here.)

I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not see Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s performance Strange Democracy: Border Wars; it was sold out when I registered for the conference and I thought to myself, “who is going to be a no show for Gómez-Peña?” Friday came though, and a friend of mine convinced me to put my name on the wait-list where, it turned out, I was number one and the front of house assured me that I would most likely get in. At ten minutes to 7:30 pm I was buzzing around the ticket table, anxiously waiting for them to begin calling out wait-list numbers.

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“Variazioni su un Oggetto di Scena/Mr. Quill Let There Be Light/Louganis” by Luciano Chessa

Friday, 28 June 2013
10:00 pm
Pigott Theater

Blog Response by Yasmine Jahanmir

Photos by Jamie Lyons9210386981_99d32bbdfb_o

The bare stage was dark except for a pool of light focused on a center stage  grand piano. A stage hand placed what may or may not have been sheet music onto the piano and exited the stage. After a moment, with the ceremony of a concert pianist, Luciano Chessa  entered the performance space and faced the audience to present himself. Then just at the moment where this familiar symphonic scene would have him sit at the piano, he seemed to be struck by a thought, left the stage and re-entered with a large stuffed toy cow, returned to the moment in the conventional symphonic script and sat at the piano with the cow on his lap. But with another disruption in the flow of this event, Chessa manipulated the stuffed cow’s clumsy limbs over the keys of the piano. The rotund paws of the stuffed beast sloppily pounded the keys producing a cacophony of noise.  Yet, perhaps it was the sincere connection between the animate and inanimate or the joyful absurdity of memories that the childhood toy recalled, or perhaps it was the sheer exhaustion of having heard words all day, but after about thirty seconds, my ears began to hear differently and suddenly I began hearing, or perhaps imagining, a melody within the cascade of notes.  This melody which may or may not have existed became a calming meditation in the otherwise chaotic aural present of the moment. This scene opened “Variazoni,” the first part of Chessa’s larger performance entitled “Tre.” Like the larger piece, “Variazioni” dealt with themes of transmission and the painful or chaotic errors noise that arise in any type of communication. While I fear this performance trace may fall into pitfalls of cross-disciplinary analysis, as experimental music and noise are not my area of expertise,  I hope that, in the spirit of this piece, that my misreadings will at least prove productive.

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