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The Art of the Situation Part 2

August 19, 2009

Jelly Roll: The Spectacle

Thinking about this idea of art experience within a contructed situation, I of course thought about the work of a personal friend of mine, Tara Strickstein.  Previously invested in making layered collages and contructing installations inspired by the forensic analysis of blood splatters, Strickstein has become more and more interested in the use of performance and spectacle in her art-making over the past couple years.  Most recently, she created Jelly Roll: The Spectacle which, in her own words, “uses the spectacle and sugar as a medium to both explore and examine art as experience.”

This edible, performance-based installation, comprised of a sweet shop counter serving trifle and the interactive display of jelly wrestling, manipulates playful constructed behavior to cultivate a critical consciousness.

To me, this work plays on the very complex human experience of both wanting something and being afraid of something.  To simultaneously want to eat the trifle, yet feel a bit apprehensive about doing so or to watch two bodies wrestling in a pit of jelly and want simultaneously to jump in with them and to run and hide from the ringmaster  asking you to fight; this work really puts you in that limbo.  What’s so brilliant about this, as with much good spectacle work, is that the experience is incredibly viewer driven.  There is something happening and there are invitations for participation, but it is up to the viewer to reflect on their own desires and anxieties surrounding the situation.

Tara sets up the rules, but it’s your job to figure out how to play.

While Dance NOW Chicago intends to have far simpler rules (and a less messy outcome) the idea remains lives in the same space: Let’s set up an idea, get people to put themselves into it, and see what happens.

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