The Gold of Potentiality Oct 7, 2016

by NKO Rey

response by NKO Rey, OtB Writers Corps Ambassador

The first time I saw Alan Sutherland perform he balanced a stick on his head for an improbably long time during a salon in the Romaine Electric building. This was maybe 2002. The velvet voice of Sam Mickens transported me immediately to that place and time: the new century, rent parties, the DK Pan trio, my first encounters with butoh performances, alleyway boxing matches, a community of Pioneer Square artists living off vegan frito pies at a basement Elliott Bay Cafe. A time when we were younger and rent was cheaper - a hopeful and desperate time.

Which is to say, it’s impossible for me to look at this performance with objectivity.

The story begins by invoking other performances in other places. A burial, a hanging, a man being punched again and again (for pie!) infer a history that offers a fertile ground. Death and mystery are the nutrients for a dense narrative mycelium, with fruiting bodies appearing as a mycological lesson, a personal history, a forager’s tale, a warning, a mystical invocation, and a few dances.

The story really begins over a decade ago during a Fort Warden residency; after a week of evening readings from The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, intoxicated performers built a spaceship on the beach. This was the first iteration of what is now Little Brown Mushrooms.

Meandering in the way high people do, Little Brown Mushrooms intersects and implies other tales both primary and tangential, historical and personal, individual and co-authored. It uses language physical, textual and musical to explore science, science fiction, mysticism and the transformative act of myth making. It travels away from a mundane Earth and opens a surreal gateway, evading the gravitas of the everyday without being foolish. In the best tradition of butoh, it escapes definition while embracing rigor, is unassuming yet wise.

Little Brown Mushrooms is a love letter to Seattle and the Northwest: its culture and physicality; its songs, dances, and long walks in wet woods; it’s ever changeable face constantly reshaped by October clouds. It is simultaneously a deeply personal meditation on memory - individual and social, personal and performative; a recollection of the people, stories and conditions that shape the city and the artist himself.

NKO is a Seattle based art maker and adventurer who dabbles in painting, printmaking and durational performance. He often collaborates with New Mystics, Saint Genet and has been a long time volunteer at the VERA Project. He's also walked about 7000 miles in the last 3 years, including the PCT (15) AT (13) & 1500 miles of the CDT this year.