Sunday, February 3, 2008

Robert Wilson is not an actual human being

Robert Wilson's VOOM: Portraits just opened at the UI Museum of Art. The museum paid an estimated $150,000 to bring the exhibition here, about three times what it normally pays for its big shows. And is this show big. To mount it, they had to take the museum's whole permanent collection out and put it in storage. I'd had to be the person traveling to Iowa City from Chicago to see the museum's Pollock only to find out that there is a video portrait of Robert Downey Jr. on a cadaver table in its place. It would be really easy to take a cynical view of this show, after all, it was commissioned by a HDTV company. The whole thing could function as the sexiest tv commercial you've ever seen. But it's probably one of the most exciting things to happen in Iowa since I've been here. Nothing really goes on in the portraits, but there is something happening that compels you to stand and watch.

Oh, and now heard Robert Wilson tell the same three stories about four times -- the one about being in the Berlin zoo and listening to the wolves with his body, the one about his deaf son Raymond, the one about filming the panther that appears in the show. He used the same exact words every time. I'm pretty sure every human interaction is a performance for him.

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