Untitled Flesh | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mere heterosexual males are not the primary audience for the Sacred Naked Nature Girls, an all-women experimental performance collective: their workshop earlier this week and first evening of performance, Thursday night, are restricted to women. Still, I find there's something witty and liberating about their show Untitled Flesh, an hour-long collection of sketches, rituals, and dance-theater pieces boldly breaking ground where lesser performers fear to tread. Not the least of the taboos they break is the one against appearing nude (for the duration of the show!) when one doesn't have the sort of starved, plucked, shaved, trimmed, airbrushed, aerobicized, implanted, liposuctioned, computer-enhanced body common in fashion spreads and men's magazines. Yet these women revel in their bodies and their own playful spontaneity, along the revealing how unrepresentative the Barbie-doll ideal is. Cracking the beauty myth is only the first item on the Sacred Naked Nature Girls' agenda, however. They also use their nakedness to expose our culture's many contradictory, hypocritical attitudes toward gender, body image, and sexuality. One extended sketch begins with a sly parallel between cheerleading and exotic dancing ("1, 2, 3, 4 / Hey, check us out!") and ends with a troubling meditation on the uneven power relations between those who gaze and the gazed upon. Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee, 666-7737. May 30 through June 1: Thursday, 8 PM (women only); Friday-Saturday, 8 PM (open to all). $12.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Linda Kliewer.

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