Monday, March 19, 2007

21st Century Performance Art; Do you detect a theme here?

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Rapid City shut down French performer; Sioux Falls and Minneapolis didn't.

Jean-Louis Costes, the French performer who was shut down partway through a March 7 Dahl Arts Center act that included nudity, simulated sex and vomiting, says he has been troubled by hate mail and a death threat since media coverage of the event led some to believe that it was anti-American and anti-Christian.

Costes said by e-mail last week that Rapid City Journal reporting -- which was picked up by an international wire service and highlighted on conservative Web sites -- focused on the most provocative moments in a performance that was “a carefully written, composed, practiced and passionately performed opera.”

Costes said that as a result, he received sometimes-threatening criticism that neither he nor his “opera” truly deserved. “I love USA, and I am a practicing Catholic,” Costes said.
[...snip]
Cameron also said he believed that the Costes act qualified as art, although not the kind Cameron could appreciate. He and Shaw agreed that nudity, exposing genitals, simulating sex, vomiting on stage and using fake feces and fake urine crossed the line of acceptable community standards in Rapid City -- particularly in a public-owned facility such as the Dahl. [And they are acceptable in Sioux Falls and Minneapolis?]

Costes said, however, that he believes the Dahl is “the perfect place to perform a modern opera,” even if the act happens to include some sights and sounds that some might find disturbing and objectionable. He rejected the notion that his show was obscene, however. He calls his act a “universal story” that follows a man and woman through their life together as they face depression, drugs, “weird sex,” despair, prayer to their “long-forgotten God” and eventually, because of their failures, a descent into hell.

Costes, who records his current U.S. tour -- complete with graphic photography and videos of his act -- on his own Web site, said he hopes future coverage on his work doesn’t stop at references to nudity and spitting chewed-up potato chips on the audience, which was part of the Dahl performance.

“To reduce a show as complex as mine to spitting chips is not fair. It is forgetting the romantic and mystical, and funny parts, to keep only what could be a matter for scandal,” he said. [...snip] Rapid City Journal
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