INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
New York Times JUNE 13, 1981 - by John Rockwell
AVANT-GARDISTS IN MIDTOWN FOR BENEFIT
Benefit concerts, like the ones being held for the avant-garde Kitchen Center tomorrow and Monday nights at the Bond International Casino in Times Square, are often as interesting as statements about the group of artists involved as they are for any individual performance one might see.
The Kitchen benefits celebrate the tenth anniversary of the performing-arts and video center and are designed as a hedge against possible cuts in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts. But more than that, the benefits serve as metaphors for the very manner in which downtown experimental artists in many mediums routinely work together, influencing one another's work in a way in which "uptown arts," sometimes weighed down by the complexity of their traditions, frequently do not.
Each of the two Kitchen concerts will run from 8 P.M. until at least 2 A.M., with more than ten artists scheduled to perform each night. The official rundown for tomorrow - these affairs have a way of being a bit fluid, so there may be a few changes - includes Eric Bogosian, a playwright and performance artist; Glenn Branca, the vanguard art-rocker; DNA, the "no wave" rock band; Douglas Dunn, the fine modern-dance choreographer and dancer; Fab Five Freddy and Friends, a "rap" group; Lisa Fox, a dancer; John Giorno, the poet; the Philip Glass Ensemble, which plays Mr. Glass's popular Minimalist music; Leroy Jenkins, the jazz violinist; Garrett List, a jazz and avant-garde composer and former Kitchen music director; the Love of Life Orchestra, which specializes in a quirky kind of artrock; John Lurie, a jazz-rock avant-gardist and leader of the Lounge Lizards; the Raybeats, a more danceable rock band; Red Decade, a rock band, and Zev, a percussionist.
Monday, there will be Maryanne Amacher, a Minimalist composer; Laurie Anderson, the compelling composer and performance artist; Robert Ashley, the veteran composer and performer, whose work remains as fresh as ever; the Bush Tetras, a well-regarded downtown rock band; Jim Carroll, a rock poet; Rhys Chatham, the rock composer and former Kitchen music director; the Laura Dean Musicians; the Feelies, a new-wave rock band; Julius Hemphill, the jazz musician; George Lewis, the jazz trombonist, composer and current Kitchen music director; the Bebe Miller Dancers; Meredith Monk, the choreographer, dancer, composer, singer and film maker; Steve Reich and Musicians, who like Mr. Glass's ensemble, specialize in the Minimalist music of their leader, and the Arnie Zane Dancers.
But that is not all. There will also be "special intermittent performances" by Dan Aykroyd, Mr. Bogosian and Mr. Giorno. And there will be video installations and screenings both nights by Mr. Ashley; Brian Eno; Robert Longo; Cindy Lubar and Christopher Knowles; Nam June Paik; Robert Wilson; Woody and Steina Vaulka, who founded the Kitchen, and Vedo, an anagram for Devo, the conceptualist rock band.
What does this onslaught of names mean? Well, first of all, people who are not familiar with the downtown arts scene can rest assured that they represent a particularly distinguished assemblage of that scene's leading luminaries. Even if every performance is not to every taste, the curious - and the aficionados - can hope for a number of really striking experiences on either night.
But more than that, this grouping attests to the links among the members of the downtown community, which unlike some applications of that word really is a community.
The large number of rock bands on the list, for example, might seem surprising to those who regard rock and art as antithetical. But in lower Manhattan, art influences rock, and rock influences art. The lines between what is personal statement and what is a possibly commercial reaching-out to a public have blurred beyond all hope of clarification - and that seems a healthy development for both art, which can sometimes appear cut off from society uptown, and rock, which can too easily pander to the lowest common denominator.