Mensa Cat Monday: John Paul Sartre

John Paul Sartre

By J.B. of Vacuum Tree Head.

Readings at Electric Works, and the Snowball Pond Orchestra, December 7

The evening began at Electric Works for readings from the art issue of The Believer.

We spent a few minutes browsing the gallery at Electric Works, which featured work by Paul Madonna. His large-scale pieces included text that seemed only slightly related to the images, which often featured cartoon creatures, commercial art, and little “alien-monster” finger puppets similar to the ones I keep in my office at work.

Michelle Tea presented a reading from her piece about the fifth marriage ceremony of two “sexy performance artists” as an unauthorized event at the 2009 Venice Beinnale. Her descriptions of their costumes were quite detailed and her deadpan delivery of some their odd statements was amusing.The readings Jeff Chang and Michael Paul Mason seemed more like paper presentations at an academic conference, although I was quite intrigued by Mason’s piece on the disappearance of Ford Beckman, a highly successful minimalist artist who somehow went from the inner circles of the art world to working at a Krispy Kreme Donuts in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The examples of Beckman’s work shown in the presentation suggested the sparse geometry and simple patterns of minimalist work, but also a weathered quality that brings out the underlying materials.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation by Eames Demetrios. Demetrios. He is the grandson of the designers Charles and Ray Eames, a filmmaker, and also the Geographer-at-Large for Kcymaerxthaere, “a parallel universe that shares, to some degree, our physical planet.” After chiding the audience on their woeful state of knowledge of Kcymaerxthaere, he presented some examples of how the history and mythology intersect with our physical world, and his work to recognize significant intersections with commemorative plaques. My favorite observation was the many roads named in honor of Earl Frontage. The presentation concluded with a rousing group rendition of “Kymaerica, Sambamba Dier” sung to the tune of America the Beautiful.

After a brief stop for refreshments, it was off to The Makeout Room for the Snowball Pond Orchestra performing Piece to Celebrate the Proximity of Pearl Harbor Day and the Death of John Lennon, the first conducted composition by kingtone (aka Lucio Menegon). (Some readers my recognize Lucio as the host of the Ivy Room experimental-improv series.) “The piece is a a surround sound minimalist-meets-mayhem piece to celebrate the proximity of two events that managed to wake people out of their collective stupor for a moment or two.”

The first two sections appeared to focus more on Pearl Harbor and the last two more on John Lennon. The opening section featured the guitars, as described above. Later on, much darker guitar and string sounds were set against snare drums that sounded at once militaristic and like a clip from a rock solo, followed by long sustained guitar unisons and complex chords. The music gradually took on more of a rock feel as the narrative moved from Pearl Harbor to John Lennon, with quotations from “Helter Skelter” (from the White Album) towards the end.

You can read more about the performance, and see photos and a video clip at the kingtone website.