Sunday, March 29, 2009

George Brecht Colloquy at Chez Bushwick

Saturday was another day that forced a choice between simultaneous poetry events, and I wound up missing a reading from the Crowd series to make the “George Brecht Colloquy” happening a few blocks away at Chez Bushwick (an impressive, though unfortunately named, space).

The event, which included

sights : Betsey Biggs
things : Jimbo Blachly
sounds : Jarrod Fowler
information : Seth Kim-Cohen
words : Lytle Shaw,

was a room with five stations or “bureau-burro-burrow-borough-barrow”s. At Lytle Shaw's, you could see him typing what appeared to be letters to Marcel Proust, which he would occasionally email to another station. Jimbo Blachly's desk slowly morphed from piles of Brecht-related papers with small clay sculptures, to a single folded piece of green felt, to a draped piece of glittering fabric that collected balls of crumpled paper. Jarrod Fowler put a mic to the things near him or played noises not already in the room. Betsey Biggs projected images onto a small screen, and her station was next to a table of wine and very good homemade bread. At one point, Blachly put on a cape and a helmet and demanded another participant get up from his own information station (piled with books), but his confrontation was unsuccessful.

It was definitely the kind of event that did a lot of response measuring—people in the room would get lazy at observing the stations and would be catching up and drinking wine, when one of the stations would draw attention to itself momentarily and bring everyone to a few minutes' silence. Brecht's film “Entrance to Exit” got everyone to sit on the provided pillows from start to finish, though the quiet didn't last the whole 7 minutes.

The colloquy forced evaluation of what events demand and why/when people do what they are asked to at them, and it created discomfort--not knowing whether you should sit down, not knowing whether to look over someone's shoulder, not knowing, especially, whether to talk or where to move. But it also didn't always demand a lot of attention, which is a part of it I still need to think through.

The stations weren't connected—the people staffing them occasionally consulted about the next task or exchanged words and work, but they weren't working together, and the paper lying in copies around the room insisted read:

“If it’s not on the wall, in a book, on a pedestal, on a DVD, it must be in someone’s head. But whose head? None of the bureau-burros, the stationery-martyrs, holds the joystick of the others."

Keeping in mind that it must be in someone's head allowed the visitors' actions (a lot of curiousness, a lot of non-Brecht related mingling) to parallel the events': we all walked around trying to look into some other heads.

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