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The Hoover Dam as performance art

Defibrillator's On | Off has an indeterminate edge

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JOHN W. SISSON JR.
  • John W. Sisson Jr.

You may not expect one of the most concrete things on earth, Hoover Dam, to inspire anything as evanescent as a performance art piece. But in The Precession, Goat Island Performance Group veterans Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery interact with text-generating software that spits out poetic homage to the dam.

The Precession is part of "On | Off," an evening of edgy efforts curated by Katherine Behar and Marianne Kim. The show is designed to focus on process, but the works aren't likely to seem unfinished. Besides Morrissey and Jeffery, the roster of accomplished participants includes former Wilco member LeRoy Bach, who will improvise on acoustic guitar, and New York actor Will Bond, doing I'll Crane For You, an idiosyncratic, movement-based response to a set of written tasks. "From a curatorial perspective, 'On | Off' is about liveness," says Behar. "It's an observation of what kind of streamlined ideas emerge over the course of an evening."

The mix of local and imported performers fulfills one of the objectives of the host gallery, Defibrillator, which is to cross-pollinate Chicago performance art and its counterparts in the wider art world. "'On | Off' is really our way of championing performance art in Chicago," says Kim. "It's important to both Katherine and myself that performance become a sustainable part of Chicago's arts scene."

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