What you are doing now as a group does matter.
I'd been wondering how to honor MJ's legacy, as I did not feel a part of the media flurry after his death. My zumba teacher Katie provided me the answer this past week. She invited me to her Thrill the World dance practice. This month and half class will end by participating in the round the world Thriller Dance a shared dance that occurs simultaneoulsy on October 25th. There are two classes that meet at Brentwood Y on a regular basis and one crash course class. Apparently the world record was set by Austin, TX when they had 800 people dance together.
When my brother and I were little Thriller was one of the only things we could agree on. We spent hours coordinating dances in my parents basement that would involve us sliding down the stairs and then posturing with our Jackson 5 gold glove (we shared this treasure). The actual coordinated Thriller video was awe inspiring for me and I never imagined that it could be broken up into manageable learned steps. I am also interested in this whole concept of Thrill the World as it reminds me of Adrian Piper's Project Funk Lessons where she taught people how to dance to funk music. Not only does it bring me extreme joy to be in a dance class with people of all ages, but also I crack up when we are doing moves with names like "booty bump" and "wuz happening?". There is a sort if acceptance of body and movement that happens when were all contorting in front of a wall of mirrors.
This is also fulfilling to me as I've been seeking out rituals. I've been thinking a great deal about rituals; ones that are out of the norm or everyday. This weekend I've had a series of satisfying art experience and I think it is because they have tapped into an aspect of this idea.
A local gospel choir opened up and invoked a little soul/jesus into Boots on Friday night. Theaster Gates, artist, followed their moving songs with a welcome relinquishing the creatorship of the objects on the wall to his neighborhood, as they were all simply things he'd collected around him. A spoken word poet began to question what was god and where was god and how did people experience god. Then Theaster and his Black Monks of Mississippi started to sing. They sang songs about Dave the Slave Potter. His stories seemed to be mixed in with contemporary observations that I imagine Theaster and his group had experienced. The sound was Lou Rawls meets Paul Robeson meets Soweto Choir meets Last Poets. Ritual of song and storytelling.
Kick in the butt Saturday as I wasted much of my day waiting for Cam and then just headed to the studio to spend hours cutting magazines. Went o White Flag for the Destroy all Monsters show, DaM was a collective out of Detroit that experimented with art, music, video, and zines. This show was a celebration of ephemera and archives from their practice. Pop Collages with images of B movies, psychedelic patterns, art folk, and landmarks were printed on sign banners hung on all the walls. Cases located throughout the gallery featured collected artifacts like slogan pins, action figures, and print material. On the ground videos played montages of b movies and dance shows that reminded me of St. Louis public access programs. Towards the end of the show, one of the original Monsters joined musicians in playing a spontaneous set. As Detroit and St. Louis have often paired as similar cities, I was struck by how I could imagine this same stuff coming out of artists in St. Louis. As if the show was saying, what you, St. Louis are doing as a group, does matter now. Those expecting to see work like Mike Kelly's were probably disappointed as there was not much evident object-making or handmade. However it is possible to imagine his present video work, the piece were he recreated high school events, coming out of this sort of pop culture outsider geekery fascination. Archives of a ritual that once was.
Tonight I return from The Books performance at The Luminary Center. The basement space was filled by a calm polite crowd. When the Lymbic System began three quarters of the crowd sat on the ground. This practice continued through the night. One surprising aspect of the Books performance for me was their use of video as an aspect of the song. It seems cool for performers to use visuals to back up their music, very rarely do I see videos that work in tandem with the music. Their penchants for collecting sound was paralleled by a sorting of visuals from video tapes found at thrift stores. Ambulating, stream of conscious, metaphors. Everyday rituals, boiling tea water, women in a group laughing, hugging games, children jumping in snow, human fly, babies eating, bugs crawling, heart beating, girls shooting guns, old men trying on hats, disaster videos from the 1930's. Chris Marker on fast forward edited to match the beats of music.