"Superman Sleeps" Superman suit, sleeping pills, Aaron. 2003.
"War Culture" NYArts Magazine Vol. 8 N.6-8 (June-August 2003) pg.20.
On Thursday April 3rd, 2003 I had the great pleasure of donning the
Superman outfit for one last time with a group of performance artists,
choreographers, comedians, animators, illustrators, and fine artists at the Judson
Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South New York, NY) for a one-night
mixture of filmed, installed, animated, portrayed, and played art focusing on the
issues surrounding Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Bush Administration.
It was the first of what's planned to be a series called "stART," which
focuses on contemporary political issues through art, dance, music, spoken word,
and multimedia theater. Organizers included Village Voice cartoonist Ward Sutton,
Joel Hinman, Ralph Lewis, Karen Sherman, and Catherine Porter among others
with the Peculiar Works Project and Judson Church.
Among the featured artists were the TV Funhouse animation team of
Robert Smigel, Rob Marianetti, and Dave Watchenheim famous for their
‘X-Presidents' and ‘The Ambigiously Gay Duo' cartoons on Saturday Night Live.
Visual artists Sabrina Jonze, Ben Marra, Rachael Cole, Nathan Fox, Mirko Illic,
Knickerbocker Designs, John Jodzio and Anthony Wilson (among others) provided
illustrations, political cartoons, drawings and paintings. Performance artists ZERO
BOY and Martha Washington lit up the open stage. And choreographers Renata
Celichowski and Jill Sigman filled the auditorium with dance.
As I slumbered away in the corner enacting 'The Superman Sleeps'
performance, a night of political satire and commentary in the spirit of editorial
cartooning entertained a packed house. I can't say how it turned out, as I saw none
of the goings on, but everyone tells me it was great, save some weak performance
work. They were probably talking about me.
Political artists, and the art they make, are always suspected of being trite,
preachy, or just plain unendurable presences. Activists take a stand and get on
people's nerves. But political artists are sometimes are seen as careerist opportunists
who take advantage of bad situations to make personal gains. Kenny Schachter
e-mailed me and said,"If it wasn't for the war you wouldn't have any shows." I
responded, "I had shows before this and I've got things lined up for afterwards."
The truth is, I have been showing a lot more since the rumors of war started.
That sucks. It wasn't my intention to take advantage of this situation. I can't defend
the gripes people have with the genre either. As a matter of fact I don't really know
that much about the genre. I was educated in America after all.
I just hope those who were in attendance left more aware of the difficulties
involved in the US's war fever. The tone of the evening wasn't one of pulpit pounding
nor was anyone out to forward his or her career. If I never have another show again
then I'll rest content that at least I got to be part of something that spoke out. Effective
activist voices used in the spirit of protest aren't as trite, preachy, or unendurable as
they may have been for earlier generations. Their visibility is more important than
ever if we are to live in a world free from violent exchange.
Look for more stART events soon.