Sunday, May 20, 2007

Theater of Cruelty

(Artaud as Marat in Abel Gance, Napoleon, 1927)
“Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle, the theater is not possible. In our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds” (Antonin Artaud, Theater and its Double)

Theater of Cruelty
Curated by Raúl Zamudio
White Box
525 W. 26th St. NY, NY

Exhibition Dates: July 24-August 11, 2007

Panel Discussion, Thursday, August 9, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Followed by a Reception Thursday, August 9, 8:00 – 9:30pm

The above quote is culled from Antonin Artaud's writings whose reference to the theater of cruelty is often misconstrued as synonymous with sadism. There is no doubt that Artaud's framework for a new, revolutionary theater carried with it a poetics of transgression; yet, his unique aesthetic approach to the stage with its subtext of violence was neither gratuitous nor for shock value. Rather, what he sought to attack was the inertia of a theater that expressed a lifeless art to a submissive audience and coupled together, became a complacent pairing that inadvertently supported the status quo.

Analogously, contemporary art and its public ostensibly seem to be suffering from their own particular strains of political and social indifference. This acquiescence is one of the many points of contention that the exhibition entitled Theater of Cruelty rubs up against. The artists in the exhibition engage contemporary art’s conventionality in the same spirit that Artaud vilified the theatre’s artistic conservatism; thus the intent of the Theater of Cruelty is to jolt us from our conformity in order that we may think more critically about the world we live in. The artists achieve this through diverse themes formally articulated via a plethora of media including video, painting, photography, sculpture, works-on-paper, audio-work, performance, and installation. Artists: Carlos Amorales, Oreet Ashery, Kader Attia, Andisheh Avini, Jota Castro, Stuart Croft, Martin Durazo, Andrea Frank, Marcos Lopez, Teresa Margolles, Daniel Joseph Martínez, Ferran Martin, Teemu Mäki, Susanna Delahante Matienzo,S&P Stanikas, Kiki Seror, Javier Téllez, Wojtek Ulrich, Vuk Vidor, Roberto Visani, Sislej Xhafa.

A panel discussion entitled, Theater of Cruelty: Towards an Aesthetics of Transgression, will precede the opening and participants are:

Raúl Zamudio, Independent curator, critic, scholar, New York
Martin Durazo, Artist, Los Angeles
Claudia Huiza, Filmmaker, scholar, social actvist, radio-host, Los Angeles
Andrzej Jachimczyk, European Graduate School, Sociology
Kiki Seror, Artist, Paris/New York
Roberto Visani, John Jay College, Art, Music, Philosophy

Theater of Cruelty is part of: On The Edge:Transgression and The Dangerous Other. An Interdisciplinary Conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY and Graduate Center (CUNY) at 365 5th Ave, New York, NYAugust 9 and 10, 2007 . For more information on the confernce go:

NY TIMES review of exhibition:

Left to right: Vuk Vidor, Teemu Maki, Stuart Croft, Martin Durazo (in cublicle behind black curtains) Andisheh Avini, Jota Castro, Roberto Visani, Jota Castro,
Teresa Margolles (audio piece in black cubicle), Kiki Seror (large flat screen on floor)
Left to right: Sislej Xhafa, Ferran Martin, Vuk Vidor, Teemu Maki, Stuart Croft, Martin Durazo (in cubicle behind black curtains)
Link to Kiki Seror's video, Phantom Fuck, exhibited in Theater of Cruelty

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