Pig Iron’s “99 Breakups”

The Form Review is a simple attempt to increase dialogue within art journalism and highlight the subjectivity of a traditional exhibition review.  Artists/curators/responsible parties of an exhibition are invited to respond to five short prompts.  In turn, a representative of the St.Claire views the exhibition and independently responds to the same five prompts.  Both sets of “form answers” are published in tandem on the St.Claire website. To participate drop us a line at hark@the-st-claire.com


(IMAGE: Image courtesy of The Internet)


form_review_eye1 Responses by Quinn Bauriedel, Director, 99 Breakups

 1. What is hidden in this exhibition?  What is in plain sight?

This is a piece in which there are things painted in broad strokes and things painted with one hair brushes. At the start of the piece, it can be unclear what is part of the show and what is just part of life on Broad Street. These things become less and less hidden. I really like the disorienting nature of that; for me it means that audiences begin to look at everything with a bit more attention. If you begin to search out the hidden moments, you begin to notice and be on the lookout for the sufferings of others, whether or not they are part of this performance or not. At different moments, you encounter other audience members in your group, you might learn something about a stranger and you will certainly watch them watch this piece. This, I think, is a hidden but important part of the experience. PAFA’s paintings are in plain view but they, too, have stories underneath them, hidden in between each color, shape and figure.


2. Who would be this exhibition’s parents?  What might it’s children look like?

Joe Chaikin, a hero of mine and a collaborator with Pig Iron on SHUT EYE (2001) is definitely a parent of this piece. Perhaps it is his (unlikely) marriage with Pina Bausch. Chaikin’s company The Open Theatre made two seminal pieces in the 60’s and 70’s. The first was about the beginning and was called The Serpent. The other was about the end and was called Terminal. 99 Breakups springs from the same question as Terminal. What happens when there is an exit, an ending, a disintegration. The Open Theatre’s lens was about death and the dying, rituals that surround our last breaths and questions about what happens after. Our lens is about human connections and ruptures to those connections. But I think that in every breakups is a small death. It isn’t explicit in our piece but I think it is there without needing to say much more about it. Pina Bausch’s work, too, has had a big influence on Pig Iron. She always finds these movements that stand in for the whole, these visual metaphors. A lot of 99 Breakups exists in non-verbal performances that rely on gestures and movement sequences. These “dances” have been found through some of the same exercises Pina used with her company. Of course, her performers are highly trained dancers and there is a real elegance to the compositions she made; this was not our intention nor our skill-set, per se. Our movements are a bit more violent, athletic, messy but I certainly referenced her a lot in the process of making the piece. Our amazing choreographer, Dayna Hanson, in putting together the finale talked about a few sweeping sections that felt like the sweeping sections of a Pina piece. It was important for me to have a large cast in order to be able to create the feeling of a whirlwind or the force that pulls us all together.

The children of the piece might look like the non-performance/real life extraordinary moments that happen around us in public spaces every once in awhile. Sometimes we watch those in the same way we watch theatre – with reflection on our own life, with empathy, permeable to the emotions of others.


3. Describe one moment in this exhibition.

At the beginning of the finale, a couple – Justin and Scott – grapple with one another. Their bodies are picked up, dragged, pulled, pushed and twirled across the space. The movements seem improvised and we hear the bodies gripping, slapping and clasping one another. Then they loop this sequence with utter precision and the whole thing happens again. A second couple joins and the movements happen a third time, this time with both couples working in unison. Somehow, this moment is really meaningful for me. This couple repeats itself, over and over again, each time with the same ferocity as the first. They are not photocopies of the first time, disintegrating each time. Rather, they seem caught in the loop, forever intwined in this physical push/pull, trying to connect, trying to get away, kissing, rejecting, attracting. The specifics of this first couple then are made universal when the second couple repeats the same sequence. We are all engaged in this; in that moment it becomes the story we all have in common.


4. This exhibition answers/asks the following question:

Are we all, inevitably, caught in the loop of disconnection, missed connection? As hard as we try to breathe together, do we ultimately breathe alone?


5. You should message this exhibition if…

you like synecdoche, that is, looking at the thing that stands in for the whole and the whole that stands in for the thing. There are small moments in the piece that stack on one another until there is a sea of bodies all sharing the same story.


form_review_eye2Responses by Stacey Holder, Editor, The S.Claire

1. What is hidden in this exhibition?  What is in plain sight?

What’s hidden are the long and short histories of a gazillion different loves. What is in plain sight are the cliches that make it hard to have original love. Priceless works of art and grandiose architecture house the cliches, the cliches existing in many of the works themselves.


2. Who would be this exhibition’s parents?  What might it’s children look like?

Its parents would be the stack of magazine covers featuring Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston(see attached image) and a high school track team. Their children would look like wilting plants(they are wilting because they were knocked over by the cat, and nobody noticed for days.)


3. Describe one moment in this exhibition.

The moment you are watching one of the vignettes and it hits a little too close to home, and you wonder if anyone noticed you feeling awkward.


4. This exhibition answers/asks the following question:

Asks: What makes a successful relationship? Dan and Rosanne stayed together for 9 Seasons, how can I ensure that my relationship thrives as long and strong as theirs?

Answers: Love and relationships are like dancing, or wrestling, unpredictable sometimes, but sometimes you have to put your weight into it just as much as and at the same time that you’re pulling. It becomes second nature, like breathing. And sometimes you feel like you’re just beatin’ on your knees, cos there’s nothing else you can do, or running around in circles, running love laps around a love track, together, swarms of us, just knee beatin’ and love lappin’, and sometimes the love laps don’t equal love miles, and knee beatin’ doean’t make a single sound at all or even a cohesive rhythm.


5.  You should message this exhibition if…

you are able to laugh at yourself and you ENJOY reading existential novels.

Pig Iron Theatre Group “99 Breakups”

September 5 – 16, 2014

Pig Iron Theatre Group

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