31 May 2006

A Hot Time in Old Ward 4

Can there be any wonder how Jay Benanav keeps getting elected in this part of St. Paul?
So nobody flinched on this night, when the women shed their blankets and, to the screechy, plaintive bowings of a violinist perched on the lip of the window, began dancing in the buff. Their springy, synchronized leaps and abstract modernist gestures, made more precarious by the roof's pitch and elevation, came to a close when the women held apples aloft and bit into them. To enthusiastic applause, the roommates re-wrapped themselves in the blankets and climbed back into the house.
Hey, look at me, look at me everyone; I'm an artist.
The two found personal and artistic kinship, and their dances developed organically from everyday living. "There's a lot of screaming that goes on in our house," Sellers said. "We're both Virgos."
But of course . . .

"I was one of those mid-'70s people. I was nude a lot," Howard said. "It's not the first place I go to now in my work, and I really question when I use it, but nudity has a whole basket of things around it for me at these parties. Being unleashed - Dionysus is present - and the censorship and clamps being put on artists these days, the nudity is a statement of freedom."
I was just thinking about that today - the way the Bush Administration is constantly restricting our rights, but mostly those of women and minorities and hybrid car drivers and . . . oh, sorry, It's just that I've been spending so much time reading Barbara Striesand's yammerings. Hey - have you noticed how no one is ever artistically repressed when there's a skirt-chasing Democrat in the White House?

Two months after Sellers moved in, they dubbed their dwelling "The House of Transition and Permission" and threw their first performance party. In a piece titled "Fur and Bubbles," the women wore bubble costumes and danced amid fur-covered furniture on a living-room floor covered in bubble wrap. The idea, Sellers said, was to immerse their guests in an environment they could touch.
Sure, touch away, just wash our hands on the way out.

For their next party, in May 2005, Sellers and Howard performed "Rising Sap" in their backyard garden. The women dressed their grassy stage in lilacs and chocolate-covered strawberries and laid rose pedals along the walkway. Nearby, a phallus made of ice melted through the night. To the women, it's all an artistic experiment. "We don't know how to make a labyrinth, we don't know how to mosaic the ceiling, we don't know how to turn a room into a vagina," Sellers said.
I have that same problem, April.

While St. Paul will lose a distinguishing artistic entity after the June 3 performance party, the women are already working on separate pieces that continue to push boundaries. In Howard's case, it's dance work driven by the grief of wartime death. Sellers has a work in progress called "V," a cultural exploration of the female sex organ, into which she plans to incorporate video of her gynecological exam.
Right about now, I'm thinkin' about people living off NEA money, but, hey, I'm an angry white male, so what'd you expect?

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