Over at The Classical, I wrote about the Knicks and Performance art (for serious)
— Robert Silverman (@BobSaietta) December 19, 2013
If you’d attended a performance called Accidens (Matar Para Comer) at the Prelude Festival five years ago, here is what you would have happened: you walk into a bare, stage- and set-free room—this is at the City University of New York—to find a man sitting in a chair and smoking a cigar off to one side, with a large griddle warming up on a table at center. There’s a tub of water next to him. There are no seats (save for his) and it’s unclear if the play has started. So you would stand there and you wait.
After a stretch of time that seems to border on both the brief and the interminable, the man reaches into the tub and produces a live lobster, which he hangs from a microphoned wire suspended from the ceiling; he uses two other cords to splay the crustacean’s arms out. The lobster hangs there, at first motionless, then writhing and kicking, as the microphone and two speakers pick up and amplified every little sound the creature made. This is horrible, and it goes on for a while.
You would stand there, watching what is, yes, a performance, but also an actual event in which a living thing was suffering. Or you would walk out, repulsed.
Some people did. Others were angered or shocked or fascinated and stood there.
Then, after again a chunk of time that seemed eternal and oh-so-brief, the man brought out a serious pair kitchen scissors out and began poking and prodding at the lobster. There was no denying it. He was torturing the animal. You could hear its heart speed up (or at least, that’s what it seemed/felt like was occurring), as the animal seemed to be trying to escape this man wielding the knife.
Here’s a clip from an earlier production where he cuts off one of the lobster’s limbs. (Warning: It’s real.)
The audience watched.
Then he took the poor creature down and placed it next to his tiny grill. With one quick blow, he cleft its head in twain and placed it on the heat, cooking it.
It smelled delicious.
More people left, some stayed, and then he cooked it and ate it, while continuing to smoke and sipping champagne; and the audience watched.
While the performer consumed his meal, a video played behind him, explaining that what they’d seen occurs thousands of times a night, in restaurants across the globe. If you were offended or appalled or repulsed, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself about where your food comes from, and what measures are taken on your behalf in the process of growing, cultivating, killing, processing and presenting it.
You do not need to be a screeching Vegan to have a very strong emotional reaction to this. It was a play, a construct, but what was occurring onstage was undeniably also very real. A living creature, one that certainly seemed capable of experiencing fear and pain, was tortured and killed. It was clear that to a certain degree, the director/creator of the piece wanted to make the members of the audience miserable.
On the surface, that may seem odd; that an individual would willingly to fork over currency in order to be abused, or at least purposely made to feel and think unpleasant things. This sort of performance art is not for everyone, and—you could quite reasonably think—not really for anyone. But, of course, there are also the New York Knicks.
The full article can be found here. Happy New Year, Knicker-backers!