Friday, July 29, 2011

Sonia Oleniak's "Entropica..."

U-N-M-A-R-K-E-D Co-Artistic Director Sonia Oleniak's performative installation,
"EntropicA: Balance It Between The EYES" as part of SMUTOPIA! 


More on SMUTOPIA! here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All Stars

Patrick Kennelly in "The All Stars of Non-Violet Communication"
"The All Stars of Non-Violet Communication" lands in Santa Monica after 2 hit performances this past spring in Hollywood & Chinatown.

As part of 18th St. Art Center's ART NIGHT, on September 24 @ 8.00pm, Highways Performance Space will be presenting a free performance of this tragicomic work from cult writer/director Asher Hartman.

This blue vaudevillian poem in three parts unleashes the vitriol of four dead, under-appreciated gay entertainers of the 1970s. Featuring veteran performers Franc Baliton, Michael Morrissey, Joe Seely, and myself, Patrick Kennelly, with costumes by sculptor Curt LeMieux and sound accompaniment by Corey Fogel (riffing on an original score by Jasmine Orpilla), Hartman stews a compact exploration of the brutality of language, the grief from which comedy emerges, and the ways in which language empties out
into the passage from life to death. Although brief, the work is written in a dense amalgam of poetic speech, one-liners, movement, and sound with plenty of bite and aftertaste.

CLICK HERE for video from the original performance @ Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in April of this year as part of the Thursday night performance series "So Funny It Hurts."  CLICK HERE for a posting on the 2nd performance (@ Human Resources in Chinatown) from the L.A. art blog tryharder (the picture below is from that posting).

Highways is located @ 1651 18th St., 1/2 block North of Olympic Blvd.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flying Solo?

"I think there is a disease of literacy or laziness, 
because just the commentary will tell you they haven't read it."

Now is Clarence Thomas chastising those who criticize him for not actually reading his Supreme Court Opinions or is he referring to their ignorance when it pertains to a reading of the Constitution?  Well, unlike what he defines in the ever-waning, but never gone Civil Rights Era, the line is hazy.  As this Los Angeles Times profile attests, the Fountainhead loving proponent of Originalism (and once marginal contrarian of the Court) is gaining new currency in a country increasingly relying on antiquated belief systems.  Let's shame the hipsters and call it Ultimate Retro.  Surely even Ayn is turning in her grave.

Friday, July 22, 2011


image by Patrick Kennelly

Yes, buzzy British band The Vaccines are just another over-hyped import, an uneven knock-off of The Strokes, itself a knock-off of any number of great rhythmic post-punk/edging on power pop acts.  But that doesn't neccessarily make it unpleasant - to the contrary, its innocuousness is more than a bit welcome in the ever-expanding glut.

But, more than anything, The Vaccines are an example of the rising power of the online video renaissance, where more and more experimentation and innovation has been wrapped around more and more of the same.  Their videos for the singles "Blow It Up" and "All in White" are supreme examples of how the image can both complement and often (as in this case) elevate the sonic.  These works get it just right (VHS+flares+fires+spotlights+corruption+slowmotion), while also nodding to the emerging "vintage"/"lo-fi" chic in a way that doesn't make the attached hipsterism soooooo offensive:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


design by Patrick Kennelly

On May 20 + 21 (2011), I "pimped" out a performance party with Philip Littell in celebration of Highways Performance Space's 22nd Birthday. This crazy, untethered, occasionally erratic event was another of my experiments in "anti-art." By engaging the audience in the writing of the narrative, and allowing them to become part of the performance in construction, it had an excitement that fully realized the hyperbole of its promo description:

STAND UP AND SALUTE our Brave Boyz in Bootz, Ladies in Lonjeray, He-She's 'n' What-All! This year, in celebration of our 22nd Birthday, Highways Performance Space is going to take The Low Road, Transforming into An Erotic Hypnotic Hysteric Frenetic MIDWAY featuring Festival Stages, Private Booths, Stag Film Sets and THE PALACE OF PEEP and more! more! more!

Philip Littell & Patrick Kennelly pimp out over 30 Dirtee Artists in Continuous, Late Night Action! Nudie Cuties, Sin and Skin, Booze and Sleaze, the Highways to Hell...

Unfortunately, no pictures were taken of the event & some of the videotape has "mysteriously" gone missing, but here's some surviving stills. Hopefully more to come...

Thursday, July 14, 2011


(mashup by Patrick Kennelly)
I'm in the early stages of development for the May 2012 premiere of PATTY, a rock concert/performative installation that utilizes a cast of performers who identify as “Woman” to question what “Woman” represents in a modern culture where one’s sense of self has become split across a multitude of both physical and virtual spatial platforms, most of which are mediated by the Male gaze. 

The process of constructing this work is inspired y the post-modern punk feminist, cut-up techniques of Kathy Acker. This allows a means of investigating hyper-evolving communication patterns dictated by a 140 character, browser tabbing, micro-blogging, linking matrix.

The result, hopefully, will have less a Mashed-up than Cubist visual and aural quality paired, hopefully, to a rhythmically taught pop backbeat.

We'll see.... in the meantime, some inspirations, references, etc :

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Spin Zone

With Matt Taibbi & Tim Dickinson in the dugout, Rolling Stone bats away strains of continuing irrelevance with its ace political reporting.  After single-handedly bringing down Army head of forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal, RS takes aim at the impenetrable Fox News and in particular its shadowy Blofeld-like mastermind Roger Ailes.  If you know what's good for you, you'll dig up a copy (Issue 1132) & let the boiling sweat fuse your fingers to the page.

from bootleg video of EAGLE EYE

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


an old piece I dug up; the line "it really has nowhere to go but up" seems, in retrospect, a bit near-sighted. The rest, however, seems relevant still.

A cipher with a deeply imbedded soul, Jason Bourne is surely the odd action hero. His rare utterances are terse, brutal, specific. His monochromatic behavior obscurely confrontational --- dangerous. There is no pleasure in his mission. But in the surprisingly successful film series centered around him, and based on Robert Ludlum's Cold War-era spy thrillers, he has become American audiences most sympathethic 21st century action movie surrogate. This would seem to have to do with the fact that the amnesia Bourne has been struggling to overcome for four years (in film time) is a subtly resonant mirror of the currently relentless confusion of American social ethos. As the public here finds itself ever more disconnected and challenged by political action, Bourne's stubbornly self-centered quest for truth + absolution enacts a visceral, ritualistic cleansing. Though he is a Superman of sorts, he is lost, like all of us, in a rejuvenating lizard's tail of conspiracy (in The Bourne Ultimatum it is compactly closed, high-tech circuited, in the new Simpsons Movie, it is sprawling, evoking King Vidor's The Crowd in its labyrinthine tragic-comedy). Director Paul Greengrass, who brought to vivid life the crash of pre-9/11 American systems in United 93 here hyper-activates the paranoid corruption of their replacements. It makes an odd sort of sense that it is a foreign filmmaker who has most acutely tracked the feelings the "global war on terror" has bred in the national identity --- and its subsequent breakdown on the world stage.

Friday, July 8, 2011

POP! #3 - "It's Britney Bitch!"

We need only look back to one (fill in the blank) to explain and epitmoize the hyper-trajectory of popdom today.  Her wrought saga is a projection surface for the perverse fantasies, self-loathing, and ecstatic, oblivious backwards-independence of the culture.  Avant-garde and pandering all at once.  A simultaneous come on and shakedown.  Britney Spears is ultimately less a thing, a product, than an idea.  To watch it is to tangibly feel the guilt of voyeurism, to see in base relief the domination of the male gaze and, ultimately, to understand the conundrum and psychotic desperation of the human trapped in a machine.  Now, contrary to popular belief, that machine has Always been finely tuned.  It is the perfect dramatic graph - rising and falling with a mostly unbelievable consistency.  

This 2007 performance @ the MTV Video Music Awards in support of her much-hyped "comeback" album, Blackout (which also happens to be her best - more on that below), was cited by all as a further career-damaging bomb (with the requisite "fat" nastiness attached).  But, in retrospective, it was just as vital in her dramatic canon as the three-way kiss with Madonna and Christina Aguilera @ the  2003 Awards.  It had a particular effect, like most of her live appearances, of both highlighting and commenting upon the de-luxe sheen of her Pop image, and, by the extension the whole illusory Pop-matrix.

Now, we're presented with Femme Fatale - a summation of sorts - that again revels in and, by its multi-million dollar bootstraps re-imagines the illusion of empowerment.  Destiny is controlled by a roster of producers who use Spears' voice as plastic material to explore and ultimately shatter the club-based electronics that have become de rigueur.

Femme Fatale is a sequel of sorts to Blackout, the sonically pulverizing electro-dance joy ride that, in its blindingly indulgent sen(x)sual backbeat, was, in '08, a kind of perfection of the over-produced mainstream pop aesthetic.  Blackout is surrounded by thick tabloid flash pops, screeching side-street chases, and peepshow subversion.  Rocking the body from the opening "It's Britney bitch!" this 21st century Monroe with her stable of sychophantic boy toys The Neptunes, rocks it hard all the way to the closing soft revision of classic 1999 girly swooning.  Without a single dull moment,  this is a party guilty without redemption, making a life of access and pious self-aggrandizement sound so enticing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Middlemen Minority

A short-form documentary (and accompanying essay) I created in 2007 that examines the pop culture exoticism and resultant ghettoization of gypsy culture.

On the treatment of Romani people + culture in Western Cinema

The portrayal of the Gypsy/Roma on screen in the West is emblematic of their elusiveness + indefinability. Stereotypes have perpetuated for over eighty years about who the Gypsies were and where they came from, but few could agree on said "stereotypes." Even today, filmmakers who attempt a more ethnographic narrative mapping reveal a discontinuity in the cultural penetrability of the Gypsy/Roma. 

What they do tell us not only reflects the Gadje perception of Gypsy/Roma history and culture, but how the contradictory fragments (of this perception + translation) form a Rubik's cube of a particular history of the Gypsy/Roma --- one that like many others, has no true "beginning" and scatters out in a myriad of conflicting, impenetrable directions, encompassing communities and customs from India to Ireland/England to America.