Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blue Bear Caged

"Hell's Belles." Went to see the performance by Shana Robbins and Kiki Blood (aka Kirsten Mitchell) taking place in Hell.

Fertile ground for some performance art, no? It's the lowest level of the concert venue The Masquerade (Heaven, of course, being the highest). The collaboration of these two artists is a surprising and exciting moment.

Surprising because both artist typically perform alone, the star of their theatrical worlds. Each woman uses her body as the tool, and replaces her personal identity with larger universal struggles and feminist based issues. To combine visions and share a stage means a compromising of more than ego, but of artistic pursuit and control.

Exciting because both of these woman approach performance art with a level of ambition, confidence, and intelligence that demands of the viewer a redefining of art in this city, shoving the boundaries of expectation and understanding to a new level. These artists jam the conveyor belt of Atlanta's art production (while wearing corsets and stilettos) and demand your attention - now - in this moment. Forget price tags, color swatches, white wine in plastic cups - this is real deal - it's alive - you are not looking at art, you have been engulfed by it.

Anyway, off the soap box, and on with the show....

The cavernous space was kept dark (posing as a rather challenging environment for photo-documentation) and began with the Blue Bear (who has made appearances in some of Robbin's previous work). The Blue Bear burned sage around the perimeter of the painted-canvas covered stage, then swept, and paid it's respects to the eye circled in blue light on the floor. The Blue Bear seemed to be a keeper of the space, coming in and out of it's hiding spot (a large metal cage) whenever the vixens would disappear to clean up their mess and then retreat back to it's cage before their next entrance.

Kiki Blood, vixen

Black wig and white mask

grinding her body across the floor

on stage

sets her face upon the mic stand

cutting away the mask

leaves the mask hanging

lays her body across the stage like a temptress

lazy and dangerous

Shana Robbins appears in a head dress of doilies

and tree-branch antlers

camouflage for skin and a crotch of pink lace

the figure walks out with shaky legs on stripper heals

like a new-born deer, moving like jello

mother nature puts on a budweiser thong bikini

the music suddenly changes to bump n grind

and she straddles the tree trunk

and pole dances like a stripper

a black gem tear where the left eye ought be

gyrating hips and raucous shouts from the crowd

up/down, climb that pole girl

one of the antlers was broken

left on the floor for Blue Bear to retrieve

when the pole dancing ended

next was the aerobic lesson

the instructors: two men in suits on screen

work it out, work that body, break a sweat, whip it into shape

"I am a pyramid"

"I am your symbol"

Robbins, a figure in gold

was lowered from the ceiling


jangling gold bells

gold mask

Kiki Blood brandishes a knife

cutting herself out of the pyramid

sound of ripping fabric

canvas becomes a knee length dress she drops at the mic

nude underwear


(I'll use this pause to mention that the Masquerade turned out to be a surprisingly ideal location for this performance. The lighting and music were an integral part of this piece and the facilities of the theater allowed for an incredible execution and control. And where else could Robbins be lowered from the ceiling with such ease?)

the music has shifted

the sounds become humid and thick

flies buzzing, insects swarming

the women hover around the table

spearing cherries with the tips of golden Thai finger extensions

stacking building blocks and playing cards

pop, little explosions

sticky, stick, the music is creepy

they are bored

they are bidding their time

the women move like insects, Praying Mantises wanting to devour the other

the show ends in an unexpected waltz

the women leave their pointed finger extensions on the table

music changes to upbeat

Blue Bear is invited out of the cage (don't hurt that bear!)

viewers are pulled from the crowd to dance

the show ends quietly

like a compacted version of a woman's life was presented

(or maybe just those teenage years?)

a dark place lit

or a civilization

from rough beginning to peaceful end

turns out Hell isn't nearly as bad as everyone says it is.

Related Posts:
Becoming a Tree (Cake Included)

1 comment:

Brian Hits. said...

Wow, I am way sorry that I missed this!

That face on that pole is haunting.