[extropy-chat] For your amusement

Natasha Vita-More natasha at natasha.cc
Sat Mar 18 15:12:52 UTC 2006

At 02:06 PM 3/17/2006, Keith wrote:


I went to a Karen Finley performance at UCLA's Arts program in 1989, I 
think it was.  She was absolutely amazing - a brilliant actress and 
performer.  It was more than Performance Art, it was more like a Sir Ian 
McKellen performance with a tinge of Shakespeare and down and dirty tales 
about being a woman as she smeared mud onto her body.  I can't remember the 
name of the performance, but I do remember laughing and crying as she took 
the audience through her stories, each one connected to the next, laced 
smoothly through transitions.

There have been three performances by women that have been markers in my 
life.  The first was Laurie Anderson in San Francisco in the early 
1980s.  When she put a light bulb in her mouth and sang "Oh Superman" I 
knew that my future was putting the light bulb above my head and thinking 
"Oh Transhuman".

The second performance was by Karen Finley.  Through her remarkably moving 
piece, I understood that the artist as performer outweighs the actor as 
performer.  This was a bit contrary to what Performance Art had been 
experiencing since Actionism and Happenings.  Performance Artists were 
trying not to be actors, but requesting that the work be accepted as 
performance.  Karen Finley achieved great heights by actually being an 
actor in the most professional and quality-driven sense, while maintaining 
the dignity of artistic commitment.

The third performance I saw that shifted my perceptions was Lilly 
Tomlin.  She performed a piece in Los Angeles which took Karen Finley out 
back and rinsed her off. She, through her comic flare, told stories about 
life and consequences with depth but she added a pinch of spice that 
sprinkled her performance with delight - amusement and sheer joy.  I'll 
never forget the image of her playing a 5 year old sitting in a chair that 
exaggerated exaggeration!  The chair was 10x the size of a normal chair and 
her long legs seemed very petite by comparison.   No light bulb in her 
mouth, no angry stories that make you laugh or cry, but both develop with a 
sense of wit and charm.

<http://www.natasha.cc/>Natasha <http://www.natasha.cc/>Vita-More
Cultural Strategist - Designer
PhD Candidate, Planetary Collegium
President, <http://www.extropy.org/>Extropy Institute
Member, <http://www.profuturists.com/>Association of Professional Futurists
Founder, <http://www.transhumanist.biz/>Transhumanist Arts & Culture

If you draw a circle in the sand and study only what's inside the circle, 
then that is a closed-system perspective. If you study what is inside the 
circle and everything outside the circle, then that is an open system 
perspective. - Buckminster Fuller

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