Sunday, May 16, 2004

You have to "feel" the music...

There is a street fair outside our apartment today. There is a scary man wearing a Spongebob costume making balloon animals, a girl with her face painted wearing a blue knit cap and symbolically burying Barbie dolls that have been mutilated and painted black and red in tiny cardboard coffins, a band playing a sometimes passable rendition of "Little Pink Houses", a middle aged man dressed in a black leather duster sporting vampire fangs, and innumerable stalls selling everything from cinnamon roasted almonds and handmade baskets to tons of shiny jewelry that I will no doubt be sucked into buying before the weekend is over.

But, seeing all these people performing various dances, and poetry readings, and I think I might have even seen a mime, makes me think about why I don't get "it." I'm one of those people that doesn't understand performance art. Or interpretive dance. Or really anything very abstract and meant to symbolize the inner turpitude of one particular individual or group about a certain idea, event, or object. I've traveled all over the world and although I love architecture, and appreciate a beautiful painting in a museum, I am consistently befuddled by performance art.

As my friend at school says, I'm an admittedly strange combination of Martha Stewart, Dr. Phil, and on a good day, someone halfway funny. I bake cookies, own a handgun, love all things shiny, drink a lot of beer, make quilts for my friends, go to law school, and (lately) work on this blog. The girl burying the Barbies is someone I just have a hard time "getting." I know she at least thinks she's making some sort of valuable point, but I have no idea what it is. When I was a kid my parents would take me to church and sometimes people would do interpretive dances to songs and I would just sit there and wonder, "What are they interpreting?"...because to me it's just church sing it fast so you can hurry up and sit down, it would NEVER occur to me to try to express my feelings about ANYTHING through dance (or mutilating dolls for that matter).

How do you know if someone is truly making an artistic statement or is just really high and thinks the Barbie burying routine is a good idea? I heard a woman in the bagel shop the other day inviting the girl that works there to her interpretive dance class. The girl asked what they did at the class and the woman told her they put on music and then everyone just "does what they feel." She said "some people stand still like trees, some people writhe around on the floor, some do yoga, some cry, some just stand in one place and sway back and forth." Seriously, I don't get it. I'm perplexed.
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