Back to THE HISTORY OF THE FUTUREFall 1999/ Winter 2000

Friday, December 31, 1999 (New Year's Eve), Monologue:
David Cale; Tanya Barfield, "Without skin or/ Breathlessness"; Deborah Edmeades, "Fancy Ladies"; Lenora Champagne, "Getting over Tom."

Performance artists Eric Bogosian, Hazelle Goodman, John Leguizamo, Anna Deavere Smith, and Danny Hoch have the uncanny facility to occupy characters and have them speak to us, not only through their words, but through their gestures. Laurie Anderson uses language with the precision of a musician, even developing a violin bow of magnetic tape that plays a phrase forward and backward as it is drawn across an (apparent) violin. Perhaps monologue has been finely crafted during the last quarter century as a result of the ubiquitous presence of television, the talking pictures we grew up with. I dunno. I have noticed that American artists tend toward monologue, whereas European artists tend toward actions, events that are non-narrative in structure, deriving meaning in other ways. Monologue is so popular at the turn of the millennium that when the term "performance art" is invoked, most people think "monologue." I believe this development of language itself as an instrument of culture is America's most important product, and that performance artists, rap musicians and poetry slammers illuminate and provide insight into our time as history books may never do.


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