Tim Miller | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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You're familiar with Tim Miller, one of the "gang of four" performance artists whose NEA grants were pulled last year (they were subsequently reinstated) because of the subversive and specifically homoerotic nature of their work. Now that the storm has blown over, it's time to see Miller's work on its own, without the controversial hype that can raise expectations to unrealistic heights. Fortunately, his new full-length performance piece, My Queer Body, delivers quite a punch with or without sensationalistic spew surrounding it. Miller introduces the work, with his typically self-deprecating humor, as a "psycho sexual scavenger hunt" and goes on to piece together the landscape of his own body, paradoxically built from fragments of various audience members' bodies. Instead of becoming a screen for the viewer's psyche, he reflects his stories back to the audience as if they were its own, creating a playful and at times destabilizing reversal of the traditional audience-performer relationship. Miller's work is by turns wildly poetic and disarmingly candid. One moment he tells of seeing long-dead animals rise out of the La Brea Tar Pits to sanctify his one and only date with a boy in high school. The next moment he is naked in the lap of an audience member, hoping to forge a simple human connection. Because Miller metaphorically brings his audience up on stage with him, performing in the body that represents everyone present, this connection goes very deep indeed. Beacon Street Gallery & Theatre, 4520 N. Beacon, 528-4526. April 15 through 17: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday, 9:30 PM; Saturday, 7:30 PM. $8-$10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/T. Charles Erickson.

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