Track 16 Presents
“The Murder of Becky”
One-Night Only Performance Installation Theater
By Lauren Hartman and Curt LeMieux
Saturday, April 23, 2005
The Installation Continues Through Saturday, May 7

 

Track 16 presents Lauren Hartman and Curt LeMieux’s “The Murder of Becky,” a silent performance play based on Edison’s 1903 electrocution of Topsy the Elephant at Coney Island.  Unlike traditional theater, visitors to this play will wander through a sculptural landscape piecing together live interconnecting scenarios, face to face with artists whose quiet performances shift from a slow emotional burn to unpredictable moments of action.  And unlike stage plays, this one evolves over time.  You can stay for it all, or simply part of it.  Known for performance collaborations that range from the raucously bizarre to tenderly crafted works of silent theater, Hartman and LeMieux combine large sculptures made of refuse with theatrical lighting, sound and artists-turned-actors who activate these strange and symbolic environments.  The one-night only performance takes place Saturday, April 23, 2005 from 8:00pm – 10:00pm.  The installation is on view in the gallery for two weeks, from April the 23rd through Saturday, May 7, 2005.  Tickets for the performance are $10.00 and can be purchased in advance by calling 310-264-4678. Please visit Track 16’s site at www.track16.com for more information.

“The Murder of Becky” is a two-hour continuing performance. Entering Track 16’s cavernous front gallery audiences will immediately notice environments for two performers. One, a massive workman, sits in numbed fury on blocks of ice before a wispy IV tube that, like a medicinal icicle, steadily drips bourbon into a tin bucket. A second laborer made vacant by abuse stands nearly breathless mustering the courage to embark on a finger dance of an obscure sign language.  Moving on, visitors soon encounter a huckster in jockeys mesmerizing an impressionable boy with the miracles of science: the bobby pin, lint and Coca-Cola strong enough to eat through the bones of a bird.  Elsewhere, a metrosexual tipples a glass of red and indexes the audience on an iMac, carefully noting height, size and distinguishing features.  Finally, Becky’s wreckage is evident.  The elephant in this exhibition is a mess of downed scaffolding, lumber and trash, her head deflated and bent on the ground. Dangling from above, minor topiary, tightly wrapped in blinking Christmas lights hangs sovereign, a symbol of language and progress.  In a second gallery, a tall curio cabinet filled with visceral and earthy smells sits in the darkness. During the course of two hours, the performance changes, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically.  What audiences will see depends on when and for how long they are present, as they can come and go at any time.  In this, as in many such performance works, the rewards of patience are great. 

Hartman and LeMieux have invited five artists to perform in “The Murder of Becky.”  Artists featured include Mark Rucker, director of the cult classic Die! Mommy! Die! and innumerable stage shows from the Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater and South Coast Repertory Theater.  Belgian-born visual/performance artist, Simone Gad has been performing and exhibiting her painting/collages nationally and internationally since the early 1970's.  Among her recent exhibitions are Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The Dollhaus Gallery in Brooklyn, and Matthew Marks Gallery (NYC).  L2Kontemporary Gallery in Los Angeles represents Simone Gad. Ed Pelissier video and performance works have been featured at LA Freewaves, Track 16, and The Wedge.  The amazing Robert Jacka has appeared in a number of Hartman and LeMieux’s performances, noted for the transfixing intensity of his concentration. Young filmmaker and performance artist Patrick Kennelly brings delicacy, ferocity and risk to his performance and film works.

Entering into their pieces, one immediately senses boundless time for contemplation as the play’s surrounding narrative unfolds, a welcome feeling in an era of drive-through lattes and multi-tasking. Fusing political and spiritual concerns with humor, Hartman and LeMieux’s performance works are dense with a poetic mystery that comes from the long hours the two spend mining the layers of their subject matter. Although LeMieux is trained as a sculptor and Hartman as a theatrical artist, they cross disciplines in their collaborations with each contributing to every aspect of the show.  Their most recent collaboration, “I Still Have Needs” was presented as part of Irrational Exhibits show at Track 16 in 2004 following their “The Girl Was Saved” at L.A.C.E. in 2003.

Co-founder of Crazy Space, an experimental performance and visual artspace in Santa Monica, Lauren Hartman has a reputation for making thought provoking performance works as much as for presenting mass performance group shows that range from the orgiastic to the altruistic, often involving over twenty contributing artists.  These include works such as “Fairy: A Mass Human Installation for Transcendence” (with film and stage director Mark Rucker, who also appears in “Becky”), “The Winter Museum,” “Mania For Coleslaw”(with performance artist/choreographer Carol McDowell), “Give and Take” and “Lesbian Bordello.”

In addition to working on “Becky,” Hartman is curator of “Defense: Body and Nobody in Self-Protection,” an interdisciplinary visual art exhibition opening April 2, 2005 at the University of California at Riverside.  Featuring new works by William Pope.L, Coco Fusco, Lida Abdullah, Sue deBeer, ESPO and Eddo Stern, among others, this timely and controversial exhibition explores the American “culture of fear” from the perspectives of those who have historically been bodily secure within our borders and those who have not.  The exhibition will open with an educational panel and run through May 7, 2005.  Hartman is a graduate of UCLA and CalArts. Her works have been shown at Track 16, the Museum for Jurassic Technology, Rencontres Internationales (Paris/Berlin), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E.), Highways Performance Space, New Image Art, and Side Street Projects, among many other venues.

Curt LeMieux blends formal drawing elements with sculpture and assemblage to create intimate object-drawings, large-scale site-specific drawings and installation performances that combine line, light, and lived experience.  The resulting situations are dense with psychological impact and scenario.  In addition to his art practice, LeMieux had worked with and curated exhibitions of work by developmentally disabled artists.  LeMieux’s works have been shown at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E.), Track 16, Highways Performance Space and Luna International in Berlin. He holds an MA degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin at Superior and an MFA degree in drawing and installation from the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

Track 16 is noted for presenting risky political and performance works, including Ruben Ortiz Torres, and Manuel Ocampo, readings by Mary Woronov and Michael Tolkin and performance works by Johanna Went and Clam.  The gallery is located in Bergamot Station at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Bldg C-1, Santa Monica, CA 90404.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am – 6:00pm.  Please call 310-264-4678 for information and reservations.

For more information or to interview the creators Lauren Hartman and Curt LeMieux please contact Lynn Hasty at Green Galactic at 323-466-5141 or lynn@greengalactic.com.

To read a review of the event with installation photos goto: http://www.socal.com/articles/1606-61.html