Dada Fest, Davis CA

Performer, producer and UC Davis grad student Hope Mirlis organized a sprawling day & night of Dada performances, May 16, 2009, in central Davis.

Riffing off Joseph Beuys explaining his work to a dead rabbit, I whispered, grunted, and ranted for 30 minutes in the 99 F degree heat.

Here are a couple pics snapped by Hilary Bryan and the improv text that I wrote as a kind of rehearsal. Clearly I'm drowning and somehow delighting in the academic texts I'm reading. Fortunately, I finally realized that the critique of


is hideously spectacular.

Help, I just realized that the anti-spectacle is indeed a spectacle

Yes it's true. My DADA needs a MAMA, but not in a heteronormative way, or even in a way that supports the idea of binary gender. My DADA also needs a ZAZA and a MEEMEE, a QUSO and a WEBFART.

What am I trying not to say?

Help, I just realized that the anti-spectacle is indeed a spectacle.

Most specifically I just realized that I am being interpellated by cultural studies texts that challenge the hegemonic culture making machinery. What does that mean? I mean that just when I think I'm resisting, or conspiring an "alternative", I realize that the university, the books produced in academia, and the language that we speak to critique hegemony, spectacle, and ideology are all spectacular distractions shouting, "Hey you, look over here!" Just when we get an embodied awareness of the matrix, we get seduced back into the fold, the plié, the crease, the contraction.

Cultural studies texts induce an internalized and masochistic prison industrial complex, including panopticonic surveillance structures, inescapable tortures, punishments, and incarcerations. The room has no windows. Only a ceiling open to an infinite sun, camera, eye. 24/7 people, I'm talking 24/7.

And I'm an artist. A performance artist past the edge of a nervous break (dance). No one understands me. Which is predetermined. We/they want it that way. And I am only now understanding how deeply embedded this failure is. But embedded does not equal embodied. The msm journalist in Iraq is disembodied, cut off from the socio-political body, in a way that should seem familiar to contemporary artists.

So I'm approaching DADA in Davis with some trepidation, some concern about my nostalgic formulations. Isn't nostalgia a further embedding of the ideology that is cyborg-izing what remains of the living tissue that was my bodymind. Ouch, why doesn't cyborg-izing hurt? Why isn't the surgery of interpellation leaving visible scars at the corporeal points of entry or exchange. And how are these points of contact, penetration, and embeddment, anything but the primary material of my dancing, where dancing is the live moment presence of the dance, the making of the dance, the embodiment of the dance?

So I refuse to dance DADA. I will speak to the dead object that is alive with fetishistic vibrancy. I will share my concerns with whoever can hear me. I know that the ear has not kept up with the eye, i.e., the ear listens from a more archaic paradigm than the eye, cyborgized at a faster rate by visual technologies and the languages that support them. So that means I will also sing, sound, moan, whisper, grate, shift, burp, scratch, vibrate and resonate.

Saturday. Davis. 90 degrees in the shade. I'll see you there wearing shades, dishing shade.

Keith X Hennessy