Last month I attended Plays of Domesticity - an evening dedicated to the domestic stage and it's performability at Glasshouse in Brooklyn, NY. Run by artists, Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry, Glasshouse is a multi-purpose exhibition space with a history of promoting and challenging performance art amidst domestic archetypes.
Upon my arrival, Lital quietly guided me downstairs to a crowded nook where Zach Trebino presented “Story of the Eye.” Despite my elevated stairwell view, I could barely see the performance. I eventually saw a woman, skirt raised, stroking a cucumber positioned Lynda Benglis-style. Before I knew it, the audience was clapping and moving on to the next performance location. What did I just see? (Or rather, not see?) Time restrictions and space limitations quickly became a dominating element to the evening’s curation.
While getting a glass of wine, I discovered two alternating performance schedules. Each artist was given two, twenty-minute time slots so viewers could experience all the works but…. this is performance art, it never works out as planned.
I tiptoed upstairs and caught the final moments of Sara Debevec’s, Cockroach. Outfitted in a cockroach mask, Debevec spoke through a vocoder about the challenges of being, well, a cockroach. Debevec’s humor undoubtedly drew from her own apartment residency woes, resulting in a monologue befitting to the NYC audience. Her performance was entertaining but I do not (and likely will not ever) hold empathy for a cockroach. (Sorry Sara!)
The performance schedule led me to the downstairs living room where two actresses casually presented “Happy Returns” by Natalie Bates. The somber narrative explored a deceased character’s need for forgiveness in hopes of reaching the “Rainbow Room” of heaven.
Across the hall, Ivy Castellanos and 4 female performers clad in black attire entered the lower level gallery with tools, duct tape, nails, black trash bags, rectangular black boxes and red caution tape. Each performer remained focused on their own set of tools and tasks. Despite the insinuation of material, no objects were fabricated. Ivy wrapped shiny black tape around a steel phallus form while chaos struck all around her. 5 minutes into the performance, I found myself lost amidst the disjointed resonance of nails being pummeled, foam core being cut with a saw-tooth blade and the slick swish of black plastic bags gathering air. With eyes open, Castellanos’ performance imagery was a whirlwind of moving black shapes - With eyes closed - a complex composition.
Unfortunately, I missed roughly half of the performances presented throughout the evening including those by Jenni Messner, Mia Schachter and Tusia Dabrowska. But, like I said before, no matter the pre-planned structure, performance art always seems to create its own time/space/anti-structure which is precisely the magic that Glasshouse cultivates. You can check out upcoming exhibitions at Glasshouse here! - QUINN DUKES