EMPIRE (Art & Politics) – Superamas @ the MCA

Photo: Salzburg Wolfgang Kirchner

It starts with a “Re-Enactment.” Ooh, I love those! Except the artifice is palpable. Not quite sure what to make of this, but suddenly a camera rolls on “to film” a number of close ups of fallen soldiers. This part is beautiful. I feel like I’m under water while one of those submarine thingies with the lights illuminates the depths. So this piece is about mediation? When are they gonna roll the live video feed from the camera?

Not quite, suddenly the scene erupts into a party and post production celebratory congratulations. In between this and the end we also get to watch a “documentary” set in Afghanistan. The beginning is slightly comical, but I’m not sure. Again the artifice is there, but we go with it, when the scene erupts into sudden violence. The credits roll. But this is only the middle of the performance – it ends not with a climax but silence, at least on the part of the performers as they stand still watching some fireworks – loud, colorful and possibly lethal, as the explosive sounds they make are not unlike those on a battlefield (mirroring the re-enactment in the beginning). We also get snippets of atrocities in Africa, and dealing with cancer and infidelity, just like the different moments that make up our lives. These are not poignant diatribes or admonishments or calls to action, but mere mentions, asides, things that get lost as new things come along or the action shifts.

I was not satisfied when I left the MCA that night, nothing seemed solid enough to merit reflection and deep analysis. Too many genres and topics mixed in. Did I see a performance or watch a documentary or just some people who wandered on stage – a few were performing “themselves.” But in retrospect I wonder if this performance was an all too accurate reflection of our times. Genres and media, personal and global tragedies and triumph are flying past us each new one capturing our attention but the overload not allowing us to delve deep and focus on any one of them.

october 2 – 3
museum of contemporary art
chicago, il