fjb, local currency: solo 1992-1998 (fayettenam)

the human hearts, civics (tight ship)

the human hearts on myspace

nothing painted blue, taste the flavor (shrimper)

info on older band and solo work; I have no idea who compiled the scarily complete discographies


Guy de Cointet, Espahor Ledet Ko Uluner! and Five Sisters; MoMA, 5/10/12

I missed a recent screening of a related documentary (Who’s That Guy), and haven’t seen MoMA’s current language-as-art-material show, but I did make it to this reconstruction of two performance pieces by the late Guy de Cointet, a French artist who did most of his work in Los Angeles in the ’70s and ’80s.  Scripted and staged with professional actors (I believe this production originated in Amsterdam), these were really theatrical pieces that happened to have been made in an art-world context.  (They weren’t body art, or durational work, for example.) The shorter of the two, Espahor Ledet Ko Uluner! (1973), has a more obvious connection to the visual works of Cointet’s that I’m familiar with, with their grids of letters that imply but withhold “meaning”: a woman walks out with a book, put on reading glasses, tells us its title and author, and that the heroine is seeking a job, and then gives a short, dramatically inflected reading from the text, which is written in a Hugo Ball-like invented language.  An etude in displaying form by emptying it of content - not an original gesture, but brief enough to remain engaging.

Five Sisters (1982) is a fuller piece, really a one-act play.  Here, the language was perfectly comprehensible, though stylized in delivery, while the logic of the blocking and gestures were less easily grasped.  On a white set, bare, sometimes bathed in primary-colored light, four women -- leggy, modelish (the actresses, who could have stepped out of a Patrick Nagel print, where perfectly cast and coiffed), also entirely in white -- pass in and out of doorways in their family home (usually, no more than one or two were on stage at once), monologuing or conversing about: one sister’s idyllic visit to Africa; the allergy to sunlight she developed on her return to Southern California (Escondido and Garden Grove are mentioned - the ‘action’ seems to be set south of L.A. proper); another’s workaholism and identity crisis; a red painting by a third (hanging in the never-seen “mood room”); the anti-aging regimen (“Sardines are loaded with RNA!”) recommended by the doctor and lover of a fourth. In fact, health, beauty, self-help and a disgust with aging seem to be the characters’ major concerns. And this did make the piece feel very much of its Pacific-Standard-Time and place (that is, Greater L.A., during that part of the ’80s that still felt like the ’70s), as did the references to radio call-in therapists of the period, especially Dr. Toni Grant, who dispensed somewhat authoritarian post-feminist, proto-Rules advice on KABC for years, and who my dad (a psychologist) used to listen to in the car out of professional interest.

Godot-like, the fifth sister of the title is mentioned, but never appears; the phrase “my sister Eileen” occurs a couple of times - perhaps a reference to the 1940s play of that name (and the now-better known musical version, Wonderful Town - which, oddly enough, I’ll be seeing a revival of in Brooklyn on Saturday). The text also quoted lines, famous ones, from "Prufrock": this was a bit much.  Like the first piece, this was diverting and well-performed, though I would have to go back and connect it with more of Cointet’s work to see what its sororal rites were meant to add up to, beyond a transplanted European’s snapshot - arch, but not contempturous - of the skin-deep mores of his adopted city.