Parts of SEVEN will function more or less like a regular show; viewers will be able to visit the space during
usual gallery hours. Performances are scheduled for noon every Wednesday through Sunday for the duration of the festival. Rottenberg says, “It’s like doing a musical. There’s a lot of choreography, and not much room for mistakes. The big question is, how is the real space going to function with the cinematic space?”
Unlike some other Performa com- missions, SEVEN isn’t directly related to the Performa 11 theme, Russian Constructivism. The artist Liz Magic Laser, by contrast, is presenting her version of the agitprop “living news- papers,” theatrical presentations of current events that were once per- formed by Vladimir Mayakovsky and other revolutionaries.
Goldberg points out that viewers might find a tenuous connection to Constructivism in the complex apparatus of distinctly present-day phenomenon: a familiar cycle of “postcolonial giving and taking,” as Kessler calls it. And they may wonder whether they’re witnessing an exchange of chakra juice and clay, or one of humanitarian aid and natural resources.
Of course, it may be hard to see past the dizzying contraptions and hyperactive rituals of SEVEN. The performers will have to endure the equivalent of a frenzied spin class, and have their chakra juices col- lected and processed by a piece of machinery Rottenberg likens to a rotisserie chicken spit.
The 40-minute production will also build to what Rottenberg calls “the climactic moment a perfor- mance is supposed to have.” In the have-to-be-there spirit of Performa, the artists won’t say exactly what that moment entails. When the chakra juice reaches Africa, “something wonderful happens,” says Kessler. “I’d rather not spoil the fun.”
CURRENTLY ON VIEW “Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler: SEVEN” at Nicole Klagsbrun Project, New York, Nov. 3-19.
KAREN ROSENBERG is a freelance critic and regular contributor to the New York Times.