Reviewed by Christopher Atamian
I caught Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods for the first time on November 8th at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Auf Den Tisch is more a collaborative piece than Stuart’s choreography per se: a huge room is filled with tables lined up against each other with the audience sitting around it-critics, fellow artists, the general public and an occasional straggler or two judging from their reactions. The performers: Trajal Harrell, Keith Hennessey, Janez Jansa, Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Jan Maertens, Yvonne Meier, Anja Müller, Vania Rovisco, Hahn Rowe, George Emilio Sanchez, Stuart and David Thomson are a diverse, talented lot. It would be impossible to describe the action, as these twelve artists performed just about every possible type of improvisation imaginable in a nod to Grand Union and other experimental groups from the past. Jansa stood on a balcony looking out at the audience complaining in a Croatian accent that no one was risqué enough today to get naked in public as Richard Schechner did in the 60’s-then he proceeded to get naked and climb down among the hoi polloi: my older French colleague was unimpressed, noting with distaste that he had dirty feet. I thought he looked fine naked. The immer intellectual, immer thinking Harrell was alternately baffling as he read Rancière aloud (who could process the French philosopher at such break-neck speed?), fascinating as he fielded questions about forgiveness and charming as he zipped around the table in a bumble bee outfit. By now, you must get an idea of what the performance was like…Parts of Auf den Tisch were also terribly slow. Stuart officially “curated” this project-with a bit of nipping and tucking, it could have been much shorter and more enjoyable-not that pleasure was at the top of anyone’s agenda…Oh yes, as usual Yvonne Meier was her dry, hilarious self.
Photo taken from the Performa 2009 website.