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Looking at Performance: Guts, Lust and Kinks

August 3, 2017 7:30 pm

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A screening and discussion of the work of Johanna Went and Michael Turinsky,

with Doran George, Johanna Went, Christine Wertheim, and Mark Wheaton.

In celebration of X-TRA’s summer issue, a discussion and screening about looking at performance through the work of Johanna Went and Michael Turinsky.

Join us for this special program with the artist Johanna Went, her collaborator Mark Wheaton, and issue contributors Christine Wertheim and Doran George.

Both Wertheim and George take up positions of enamored spectatorship, presenting carefully crafted responses to the exuberant performance work of their subjects (Johanna Went and Michael Turinsky, respectively). Bodies figure prominently—sexy, messy and alluring.

Wertheim ends : “Johanna Went is a Dionysian genius, a Siren whose irresistible song cannot help but lure us into the temptations of ecstatic, participatory, and brave self-annihilation.” Went was a fixture on the 80s punk scene in LA, performing over 200 times between 1978 and 1988.

George begins his letter to Michael Turinsky, the Artist’s Project in this issue: “Dear Michael, You are hot and I want to have sex with you…” This letter thus consciously opens up pleasure, sensation, and desire as strategies for thinking—or should I say feeling—about dance, disability, sexual culture, and social power.” The letter is in reaction to a performance by Michael Turinsky, My body, your pleasure (2014) that George saw in Germany.

Don’t miss this foray into 80s punk, desire, disability, fake blood, and beats.

About the participants:

Doran George PhD is a cultural historian writing on sexual culture, avant-garde dance, and performance. They are also a performance artist and choreographer who deconstructs socio-political identity categories, stages work that builds micro-communities, and cultivates radical practices of intimacy. George’s artwork and scholarship is represented in art books, Oxford University Press anthologies, and journals. George currently lectures in Disability Studies and LGBTQ Studies at University of California, Los Angeles, and teaches erotic work in both art and sex-positive contexts.

Johanna Went is an American performance artist who primarily works in the Los Angeles area. She started her career in the late 1970s as musician in the punk scene. Music is still an important element of her shows. She has often worked with musician Mark Wheaton, whose fast, rhythmic music beats provide the background noise in several of her performances. Further predominant elements of Went’s shows are the use of elaborate costumes, which Went herself creates from various found objects, and the use of artificial blood. The latter played an especially important role in her early work. Went’s performances are not strictly text-based. She typically works based on a sketch that determines the rough sequence of actions, but leaves much room for improvisation. Went rarely uses language in her shows as means of communication. She rather sings, screams, whines and murmurs, thus rendering large parts of the spoken words incomprehensible. (From wikipedia)

Christine Wertheim’s books include three poetic suites, the book of ME, mUtter-bAbel, and +|’me’S-pace; three edited literary anthologies, Feminaissance, The n/Oulipean Analects, and Séance, the last two with Matias Viegener; and Crochet Coral Reef, with Margaret Wertheim, about their decade-long art-science-feminist-community project. She has received grants from the Annenberg and Orphiflamme Foundations, and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.

Mark Wheaton has been composing music since he began collaborating with performance artist Johanna Went in the early 1980’s. In addition to composing for performance art projects, Mark spends most of his time as the recording engineer for the studio Catasonic located in Echo Park, California.

Presented by X-TRA

image: Johanna Went performing at the Hong Kong Café, Los Angeles, 1979. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Scott Lindgren.
August 3, 2017
7:30 pm
Human Resources LA
410 Cottage Home
Los Angeles, CA 90012