Books have a mystical place in our culture: they're signifiers of wisdom, vessels of secret knowledge, repositories of private longings. Recommending a book is a coded communication: by suggesting this title at this time I tell you something about myself and about what I think of you. Loaning a book is an act of intimacy. Yet the myriad meanings of books remain largely unexamined, especially in the performance-art world, which has long been ambivalent about books and the printed word. Now Barrie Cole and Theresa Sofianos have curated a series of pieces, "Book Marks," that address this omission. With her trademark verbal pyrotechnics, Cole wittily reveals in This Book the dark, obsessive side to having a favorite tome. Pate Conaway and Julie Caffey show, through dance and storytelling, how exchanging books forged a bond between them. Not every piece I saw last weekend felt complete, however. Eric Ziegenhagen has a winning stage presence, but his brief memoir of a trip he made to Nova Scotia, Untitled, is fragmentary and unsatisfying. Balancing it out was a throroughly entertaining and enlightening piece by Beth Ann Bryant-Richards--a humorous, heartfelt contemplation of how romance novels gave her unrealistic expectations of love. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Through March 11: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. Scheduled for Friday, March 9: Cole, Doug Stapleton, Hans Sterm and Jackie Allen, Karen Sorenson, and Gina Buccola. For Saturday, March 10: Sofianos, Cole, 4 Tell, Buccola, and Kate Thomas. For Sunday, March 11: Grace Fill, G.C. Guard, Sofianos, Stapleton, and Sorenson. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.