Imagine a ballet performed by two cement mixers, a forklift, and a Hyundai Excel and you'd come pretty close to Goat Island's It's Shifting, Hank. These four high-octane, physically mismatched performers under Lin Hixson's direction have been presenting their richly poetic, collision-heavy physical endurance pieces for seven years in Chicago and around the world. It's Shifting, Hank was born in 1991 out of the question: "Why were you in pain in such a beautiful place?" Two years of exploration drew the artists to a variety of source materials, including physics textbooks, lifesaving manuals, and sports magazines. But the final piece is presented utterly without context, abstracted and distilled to a physical essence. Performers are picked up by the literal seat of their pants, carried a few feet, and unceremoniously dumped. They poke and probe one another like disinterested clinicians. They empty every molecule of air from their lungs by reciting certain phrases over and over to the point of near collapse. And throughout, they clomp gracefully up and down the Wellington Avenue Church gymnasium maintaining a serene nonchalance and creating an incongruous, absurdly humorous jumble of bizarre, intimate gestures. It's Shifting, Hank never answers its original question, but the question's confluence of pain and beauty lies at the very core of the piece, as it does the human heart. Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall, 615 W. Wellington, 772-9273. Opens Friday, October 7, 7 PM. Through October 16: Fridays-Sundays, 7 PM. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eileen Ryan.