Hot Mess May 17, 2013

by Eric Pitsenbarger


"Paradisical Rites" is a stylish, waking dream, where the references of implied violence and death look sweet. A two and a half hour melancholy dirge across a slowly disintegrating field of swaying weeds. Peopled with beautiful, slightly disheveled specimens of hipster wearing looks of either disengaged, slightly perturbed angst or the somnambulant gaze of drugged out raver, these beautiful zombies in (and then out), of their Gaultier vestment, bib or artfully puckered nightgown wander across the surreal landscape in mapped sequence, enacting obscure ritualistic gesture and the repeated reaching, grasping, reactionary movement that speaks of deep longing.

Longing, melancholia and angst fuel the romance of this dystopian tale. The punk sensibility at work here ensures that darkness will win out and that the longing will remain forever unfulfilled. We are meant to forever circle and coax the longings of love with fidgeting fingers and reaching, grasping arms, enshrining frustrated attempts with elaborate, repeated voodoo tipped, prop-laden excess.

With the rumble of an oil-dark, fever inducing electronic soundscape we're propelled like a giant, leaking, lolling ship over endless waves. The bacchanal haze of party-animal whippets, spitting wine and French cigarettes; the roiling atmospherics and accumulating filth, the dangerous maneuvers across an increasingly wet, challenging set…it's a nightmare of never-ending cock-teasing, vaguely fetishistic urban droll, endlessly seeking and celebrating love, but always missing.

Style,  a glamorous stand-in for actual love, is a hunger for something so elusive, remembered, desired…and is now replicated in machinations that spark an emotional backwater of repressed feeling- the violence that masks (and broadcasts), unresolved issues. The pathos of a haunting, ghostly vision is locked in a predictably doomed and infinite fate. True intimacy (and salvation), is just beyond the horizon, but to meander in the glamorous puddle of one's own reflection, the narcissistic seduction of navel gazing doesn't allow for much else. There never will be a horizon to cross.

Nihilistic, near the tipping point of absurd, the indulgences are telling of what is considered hip: "High concept" theatrics (aka posing), that drown the viewer with spectacle, with shock and stunts that sting for a moment (with a tapestry of symbolic allegory drenching). I enjoyed the hot mess of fervor, but not so much the self-importance. Following the frame of spinning, headless pheasants, the butoh ghost spoke words that sum it up: "Make it stop! Let's get on with it! Put me out of my misery!"