Tonight Chanticleer Trü reins in this final Works performance of this year's TBA Festival. He made a guest appearance however earlier this week (Wednesday) during SQUART, which, to recap, was a performance of mayhem and asses— literal asses, which aligned nicely with the New York Times's recent declaration about our fine butt nation.
- LB Tomczak/PICA
- Bare butts and a dog named Giovanni.
SQUART—which is short for Spontaneous Queer Art—is a project that San Francisco-based, TBA veteran Laura/Larry Arrington started four years ago. It began as a response to the isolating effects of artmaking and grant proposing. Arrington wanted to do something collaborative, something that "was silly on purpose.” Mission accomplished. How SQUART works: an open call occurs and people sign up and show up a few hours before the show; they're then divided into four groups to create a 14-minute performance, which is judged by a group of “celebrity” judges (Wednesday's judges included Holcombe Waller, the aforementioned Chanticleer Tru, Linda Austin, and others). The contestants are judged by whatever silly, sometimes entertaining, bullshit that pops into the judges' heads at the time.
The run time of the SQUART was two hours, which is way, way too long for an absurdist performance like this. It’s framed as “usurping the conventions of reality TV shows,” but SQUART doesn’t have much to do with reality TV, or with anything that has a narrative structure. Instead, there’s a lot of crawling around, naked wrestling, screaming, grunting, groaning, etc. that occurs during the 14-minute acts of the show (of which there are four). Two women next to me muttered sarcastically the whole time, moaning, “Good thing we only paid $45 for this,” and eventually they were gone, and, after about an hour into SQUART, there were a lot of people that had gone, and quite a few abandoned seats in the audience.
On the contrary, the performers on stage seemed to be having a good time. The takeaway: SQUART works best for the people who are involved in the performance, and for people who WANT to get involved and create a community around movement; it’s not a fun show if you’re expecting to sit back and be entertained. At a performance like SQUART, you will be asked to do aerobics, and you will be asked to “get the fuck up.”