an evening with Cammisa Buerhaus, Geo Wyeth and Ivan Cheng
November 22, 2019, Perdu, Amsterdam
“When I think of Chloe Sevigny I feel the code book wobbling on my retina”
Perdu invites artist Ivan Cheng to guest edit a program, which he has titled Clarities. Emerging from a conversation with Perdu editors which moved around opacities and productive misunderstanding, and the role of entertainment within this, he has chosen to invite the acclaimed artists and musicians Cammisa Buerhaus and Geo Wyeth to present solo performances alongside a bridging contribution of his own. Using and discarding markers of character, and moving between worlds constructed of references, each negotiates structure, power, sound and language in their own way, choosing relations to stylistic precedents.
Buerhaus will present The Maze, a confessional-performative psychodrama which begins by invoking Ariadne. First presented in Lisbon’s Spirit Shop in 2018, it follows from with other plays which have previously performed American political scandals, the dynamics involved in sex work, and biblical myths. Based in New York City, Buerhaus is a writer, performer, and composer who also runs record label Wild Flesh Productions, focusing on music made by artists, and is also noted for her performance in The Evening with Richard Maxwell's NYC Players.
Wyeth presents new material from the Muck Studies Dept, an ongoing project which “melds black/American music and history, extractive industry survey, and techniques of investigative journalism to trouble the swampy waters of race and memory in the USA.” Performing an excerpt from an upcoming performance with tightly scripted text and musical performance, it is a movement away from the character driven, absurdist performances they have previously presented in the Netherlands.
This event description opens with a half line from Tan Lin’s 2002 Eleven Minute Painting https://bit.ly/2AP2bPE, chosen for vulgar affinity to a lineage of inquiries of reading/mediating practices and play within that, as well as spaces of reception and movement between higher/lower culture. It is preceded by citing actress Sevigny’s roles in The Last Days of Disco and Boys Don’t Cry and her noted/mythologised for her approach to style. Clarities (briefly also named Kruder & Dorfmeister after a collaborative project of Lin's and Mary Ellen Carroll) emerges from interest in the 'performing' thing in relation to the so-called ‘audience’ and the fraught space of mediation of self/artist persona.
Please join us for this special event to coincide with Amsterdam Art Weekend.
Kruder & Dorfmeister w/ C Buerhaus, G Wyeth, I Cheng
Clarities1 - an evening2 with Cammisa Buerhaus, Geo Wyeth, and Ivan Cheng
November 22, 8pm3
Tan Lin’s4 Eleven Minute Painting5 (2002) memorably observes:
She can make a beret look very recent. / Her publicist announced: “she is trying to dissociate herself from fashion at the moment.” When I think of Chloe Sevigny I feel the code book wobbling on my retina”. / Someone said: “Anticipation is an interesting and difficult thing to produce.”
Cammisa Buerhaus presents The Maze 6
Geo Wyeth presents new material from the Muck Studies Dept 7
Ivan Cheng functions as bridge. 8
1 We were walking around the Stedelijk, and my cell, connected to the wifi, let messages come in, over the course of which I resolved to revise the text for this event. I was asked to push my opaque text towards accessibility - a request fraught with possibility and nuance. I asked to receive suggestions of previous texts that had functioned, and what I received used nosism/institutional voice in a way that, as a guest ‘editor’ seemed disingenuous and misleading. What I’ve deemed an appropriate solution for subjectivity was to maybe stay with a style of address that I use in relation for emails to a space I run, which are fun to write and let ‘personality’ interface with opacity.
My performed resistance to this is (I hope) less to do with being a brat than to do with what I try to establish as fundamental values in how I wish to frame language. The last time I was invited to do something at Perdu, the conversation also began with their interest in my apparent practice of Bad Reading, and I enjoyed that their email had used and transformed snippets of language I had previously used around different projects to form what I felt was an exciting, productive misunderstanding. I had thought to maybe try to title the event BAD READING, or at least riff on what I mean by this idea. A friend mentioned this to me as a hook I’ve used in the past which still whets their appetite, and I wanted to react to that since so much of my thinking about this event was really about how to balance perceived expectations from Perdu, put together an event with integrity with the limited resources, and attract an audience that might be preoccupied with Amsterdam Art Weekend, which is probably where my attention would otherwise be. I moved away from the language of BAD READING (which I might define as more of a provocation as to what good reading might be, and how a text is served or damaged as it is read or interpreted) because I consider Cammisa and Geo to be pretty iconic, star performers who work with language using conventions of performance, and thus the evening does not offer a thesis or deep variety in style of reading as an act. It was suggested that I could say that it was evening exploring English language, but I don’t think that enough terrain is being explored to call it that, and being advised to hint at a kind of thematics for the sake of Perdu made me spiral into thinking about the space of curating vs organising vs editing, and nuances of authorship and relations to power. I replied that the evening was interested in disclosure in language more than exploration. From what I know now (early October) maybe there’s something to do with a relationship to the New York scene, or, I guess there’s something to do with recesses and backends, and for those who know me, you’ll know my obsession with transitions, mediating, but we’re also not in a logistic or financially enabled position to collectively negotiate a set of language that can function.
2 I know that maybe ‘of performances’ could be useful here, but seemed redundant given generalisations that can be made about the work of each other contributors (including myself) who probably have a slightly fraught relationship with what performance can entail.
3 Yes, it is the same time as Amsterdam Art Weekend.
4 I have a catalogue of Alex Hubbard’s work in which there’s a Tan Lin contribution titled ‘The Complete Poems of Alex Hubbard/by Tan Lin’, which perform an extremely appealing pageantry of critique over poems that Hubbard attempts - assignments attributed to John Yau, and the text that offers commentary is similar to the position I’m attempting here, though I’m trying to stay amusing while de-fanged out of gratitude and politeness. Maybe it’s also nice to note that I first really got an introduction to Lin’s work while speaking with Mary Ellen Carroll, whose approach to literalness has compassed my own thinking. I learned they used to be partners, and looking things up now I see they had a collaboration named after Kruder & Dorfmeister, which I think I’ll change the name of the event to. Maybe that ties us together better - our shared relationships with sound communities and music (more on K&D here https://bit.ly/2VsUIhA) (more on MEC/TL K&D here in final paragraphs https://bit.ly/2Vq2NVI)
5 My walking companion is the daughter of an antique furniture restorer and copy maker, and a leading anecdote of his prowess included a copy of a chair without the handles and two inches wider on each side. I also thought I could bring her in, as both non sequitur and kind of relational tie because I thought that it would feel more apt to contextualise the Tan Lin quotation. I’ve now erased her name and reduced her role. From first notes, it might have rendered it inaccessible. It’s dumb, but I left today thinking again about the relationship between design and function, misuse of eg furniture, or futile displays of objects which are intertwined with values of accumulation and fetishisation. Silly, unrealistic throwback to, you know, frustrations, complicities. Eleven Minute Painting though, is a video that you can watch online here https://bit.ly/2AP2bPE, and felt like a nice affinity for how it pointed to a lineage of inquiries to reading/mediating practices and play within that, and also contains nice movement between higher/lower culture, spaces of reception, which I exploit here in the excerpt with the mention of Sevigny. It is preceded by citing her roles in The Last Days of Disco and Boys Don’t Cry and how she is noted/mythologised for her approach to style. Felt like all these things had affinities with our program; relation to the so-called ‘audience’ and the fraught space of mediation of self/artist persona. I actually began with only the line about the codebook wobbling on the retina, but when I thought about how to violently wrench that line out of context and syntax, thought it might be gentle to surround it rather than propose that voice alone : - /. I guess I was hoping the reader might already know the work or be encouraged to seek it out. Also, the fantasy that someone would enjoy the b/w context and context of this text was something I liked.
6 This is a play that Cammisa showed in 2018 in Lisbon’s Spirit Shop, and had intrigued me for a while until I recently wrote to her and asked for the documentation/text, and reading that clinched my desire to see it. This happened around the time of being invited to guest edit a program. I’ve only seen Cammisa through sound/video, but met her late Summer 2016 while ‘interviewing’ her friend and colleague Felix Bernstein. At the time she was performing with the NYC Players/ Richard Maxwell in The Evening, and earlier this summer when I reached out to curator/artist Alex Fleming about whether he could meet since I saw this great show that he had been involved in, he wasn’t around but suggested I meet his good friend Cammisa. I ended up going to LA at the last minute which seriously trimmed my ability to meet people, but yeah, she studded in my brain more severely, and also came up in passing while at a pastry shop with Felix.
7 Spoke with Geo about this on the phone last week, and I understand this will be trying out new material from this project in a different modality to what fans of the work like me are familiar with. We’re waiting to find out the specs of the sound system at Perdu which will influence some stuff as well. Much much respect for Geo, always looking with keen eyes. Hehe, the sample text I got sent was also quite enthusiastic and adulatory : - )
8 No idea what this actually means, but hope to soon
9 Felt better to put these links here than to try to ask for the tyrannous bio, especially after scrabbling around the internet for one of Cammisa. I thought the tumblr hosting maybe also indicated something about their practices. In the last half year, I also have a policy of trying to offer only my website for online announcements, and something more traditional for print.