Founded in 2004 by Kara Feely and Travis Just (director/writer/designer and composer/musician/director respectively... as well as married cat owners), the performances of Object Collection upset our notions of space, time, narrative, sound, and just about every base element of time-based work that we think we know something about. If their work is abrasive, it's also as finely tuned as their instruments, deeply provocative, and intensely methodical.
Object Collection owes a certain aesthetic debt to John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Terry Riley, Richard Foreman and Yvonne Rainer (as well as Brecht, Artaud and Japanese Noh Theatre), but they have forged their own unique territory in contemporary performance, avoiding the derivative in favor of the difficult -- with truly exciting results. If you still don't have a clear picture in your head of what their work looks like on stage, well, that's sort of my (and perhaps also their) point. This work isn't easy to describe, and doesn't look quite like anything you've seen before. And it's not nice -- it doesn't invite you in to sit on a comfortable chair (I mean, there aren't any comfortable chairs downtown anyway) and hear a riveting tale of love and deception -- this is work that eviscerates itself in front of you, and doesn't apologize for the blood that stings your eyes. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is for those tired of being tired at the theater. Object Collection's work is going to get YOUR creative juices flowing.
Innova, Object Collection's sixth full NYC production, opens May 13th at the Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Object Collection has performed at the Ontological Hysteric Theater (now The Incubator Arts Project), PS 122, The Chocolate Factory in NYC as well as throughout Japan, Germany, and Italy. I went to a rehearsal for Innova towards the end of their process. The show is performed in English, Turkish, German, French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Hebrew, with English supertitles. It is alienating in its obtuseness, but it generates an immersive atmosphere, and I found myself unable to turn away from the action on stage. Text and material are culled from myriad sources. At one point, performer Avi Glickstein begins a monologue of sorts based on a Robert Smithson lecture and he yells about "facades, overlapping facades!" This seems an apt metaphor for the show itself: layers upon layers of purposeful action, text, imagery, gesture and sound... and no intended route to what, if anything, is beneath them. The result is compelling, disturbing, and shockingly beautiful.
Innova features performers Doug Barrett, Avi Glickstein, Eric Magnus, Fulya Peker, Deborah Wallace, musicians Taylor Levine and Jessie Marino, with Feely as writer/director and Just as composer/performer. It runs May 13-22 at Abrons. Spring is a time to embrace the new, try something different, and make yourself uncomfortable with the hope of gaining a bit of insight. This is theater that leaves you talking about it after, unable to shake the arresting stage pictures or drown out the beautiful and bizarre sounds of Just's score. Put on your work boots and enjoy. Tickets here.
Trailer for Innova.