Posts Tagged ‘Miriam Katz’

Action from the Laugh Section

Monday, March 21st, 2011


Dave Hill at Saturday Sessions, MOMA/PS1

“…by John Lennon…”

“…is almost impossible to masturbate to.”


So went the pervy confessionalia of Dave Hill, a mumblecore loner whose favorite thing to do after sexual intercourse is “step out from behind the curtain to laugh at the naked people,” who recounted a weekend tryst with a Japanese toilet (for those in the know, Japanese toilets are high-tech, easily available, and intimately ac-“commod”-ating, no pun intended). Referring to the customizable, automated bidet, he recalled, “It touched me like this,” rolling his pointer finger like a caterpillar reaching for a leaf – and then told how he utilized the toilet functions designed “for woman parts.”

Mr. Hill, whose drawn face and flexi-finger I won’t forget any time soon, was part of last weekend’s Saturday Session at MOMA/PS1. That session in particular was curated by Miriam Katz, an Artforum editorial researcher, Hunter College graduate student, and weekend comedienne. Described as “experimental comedy,” though more comedic than experimental, the event also included live performances by Jon Glaser, Jenny Slate, and Reggie Watts, as well as newly commissioned videos by Maeve Higgins and Rory Scovel. (My apologies to those last two, whose videos I wish I could have watched on the monitors on opposing walls. Sadly, the sold-out event was just too crowded, and I couldn’t get close enough to view them. Luckily, a quick youtube search makes up for this.)

Jon Glaser, wearing a green mask like the Green Hornet (vintage, not the husky Rogen fail) also took the priapic prompt, though his penis-humor was more sweet and family-friendly than prurient and late-night.

Jon Glaser

But it wasn’t just the guys with minds in the gutter. Jenny Slate, better known as the voice of Marcel the Shell hilariously revealed to us her twisted brain’s fusing of Y2K meltdown with an imaginary sexual predator: “a rogue ATM would kick in my dorm room door and [NSFW].” She described – and reenacted – her childhood Lolita, imitated her angel-voiced Dad who wails like a Disney heroine, and argued for her unusual vulnerability to kidnapping.

Jenny Slate

Humorous in a more arch, ironic, and gently acerbic manner was the boom-bap teddy bear, Reggie Watts. If you didn’t get enough from the previous posting, here is another video.

Framing his live music-based performance in the tradition of John Cage (pronounced “kah-ZHAY”) whose work he suavely and concisely explained as being less about the notes and more about the space in between, he ruminated aloud about performance versus “performance” (ya dig?), invoked Ghost in the Shell, and led us into a rhetorical ambush about metaphysically simulated reality, a la Brains in a Vat. Heavy! No wonder he has that thicket of curls, must be to insulate such a probing brain. He’ll be in next autumn’s Performa Biennial, let’s check in again then.

Reggie Watts at Saturday Sessions, MOMA/PS1

What could live comedy have to do with the art world? Don’t we prefer our jokes painted or printed onto canvas? It must have something to it, because I saw such art world professionals as David Velasco, Mark Beasley, Eliza Ryan, Sam Wilson, and many other artists, too. Maybe everybody needed a weekend pick-me-up after being justifiably depressed by all the bad news coming from, well, every other continent. Turn that ūüôĀ upside down. Or not.

Live as a Cabaret

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

“Years ago, a stranger landed in Brooklyn and quietly rented a storefront. No one saw him; the only evidence of his arrival was a sign that appeared in the window reading, ‘Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.’ Soon after, art exhibitions cropped up in the space, and three directors became the face of the gallery, but we’ve never seen the man behind the eponym.¬†

So says the xeroxed playbill for Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical, a live performance presented by NYC artist Ryan McNamara:

“See, Klaus starts his first day at the prestigious Old Country Art Academy
Not that he is a particularly talented artist.
His acceptance may just have to do with his mother owning this town’s most prestigious gallery.
On top of that, Frau von Nichtssagend is running for mayor of this fine town.
Oh dear, she heard me. Her ears are sonar when it comes to hearing her name.”

So once upon a time, the earnest art student Klaus wiled away blissful afternoons in the German countryside with Mikke, his schoolmate and soulmate. ¬†Enveloped in virginal love, Klaus and Mikke met regularly for “tutoring sessions,” modeling for each other’s drawings and swapping ideas – among other things.

Grand Dame
Grand Dame (Miriam Katz)

Foreseeing the inevitability of this impervious passion, Klaus comes forth to his mother, Frau von Nichtssagend, played by the sizzling Miriam Katz doing¬†Roxie Hart doing Cinderella’s¬†Stepmother. ¬†A scheming shrew and gallery grand dame, Frau Frown is occupied with “Belgian clients” and political ambitions. ¬†Correctly, Klaus predicts her disapproval, not only because Mikke is a six-foot tall wooden ladder: “Mikke is installation and we are exhibition!” she cries.

Ryan McNamara as Klaus von Nichtssagend

What should be an emancipation from his Mother’s icy clutches instead leads to a crueller leash. ¬†“Enough about love! ¬†What about power?” shrieks the Frau. ¬†Choosing political profile over her son’s heart, our heartless harridan trammels him into a corner of the gallery. ¬†Ruled with masking tape, the small square cordons him off like a Richard Serra Prop sculpture. ¬†There must he wait until after the big election:

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“Behind the tape with you!/¬†Your love is not true/¬†You are stuck until the votes are in!/¬†Foolish love will not cost me my win”


Icy clutches
Icy clutches

Inspired through love’s extrasensory mechanics, Klaus goes all reverse Galatea, posing as a sculpture that needs to be shipped – to Mikke.¬† But his postal plan is thwarted.¬† When the crate arrives, Frau von Nichtssagend leaps out from the package (LOL total Trojan Horse!!! LMAO), armed with a level to “straighten out” our loving ladder.¬† She goes all Klara Liden on Mikke, beating the last breath from his rungs (OMFG!).

Such tragedy!  Poor Klaus in a loveless world!  Die Leiden des jungen Nichtssagend!

Triumph of the Vill(ain)?
Triumph of the Vill(ain)?

Bereft of his love and his mother’s acceptance, Klaus expatriates himself to Williamsburg. ¬†He loves his community, but hates the G train.

“So, Klaus moved to Brooklyn
And he built a gallery
To fill this void
But, that really didn’t work
So he gave the gallery
to Ingrid, Rob and Sam
then he left the country
and ever since that FATEful day
he‚Äôs been SKIing in the Alps..”

Kiss Goodbye

The cast of this one-night-only, sold-out performance included Ryan McNamara, Miriam Katz, Reid Bartelme, and Sara Marcus; with a clad-in-black-leotard chorus including Sam Roeck, Sabine Rogers, and Myles Ashby.  Music and lyrics by Ryan McNamara.  [Many of these voluptuous bodies were made for tights (am i right or am i right?).  Was that the birthday gift to itself from this gallery born five years ago this month?]  Thank you and thank you: Rob Hult, Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, and Sam Wilson.  Happy bday, Klaus.

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A Star is Born
A Star is Born
IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough