Relational Stalinism - The Musical
Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2016
29 January – 6 March 2016

A condensed version was also presented at The Liverpool Biennial 2016

“Relational Stalinism”

In opposition to the strangling of museum spaces worldwide by rampant immaterial kudzu, (i.e. Post-French Post-Conceptual Dance, Dance-We-Can’t-Call-Dance, Po-Faced Minimalism, Feel-Good Participatory Glibbery, (a.k.a. Too Many Seagulls), and Performance with no qualities whatsoever aside from its leeching of court-approved historical referents, (a.k.a. Fancy Shoulder Piggybacking)), the breed of Relational Stalinism arose in a Theater Internment Facility in Preoccupied Benelux in the late Twenty-Teens. The primary tenets of Relational Stalinism are: Emboldening Confusion, Logocratic Exuberance, and Antic Behaviorism. Relational Stalinist works use a slippery iron fist to unbutton the viewer’s buggy of self and catapult her into a realm of truths only palpable through higher forms of irrationality.

This advanced breed of world-bending adopts the degree-zero performance palette as a constraint (performers, in a room, that’s it), but pushes it out of monochrome and into a pubotany of deviously vibrant offshoots which stretch participants’ language and behavior in the service of invention.

Running across seven spaces at Witte de With, Relational Stalinism – The Musical is an assemblage of 11 new performances playing in a 2-hour cycle over the course of the exhibition, created by artist Michael Portnoy and enacted and developed with a diverse troupe of dancers, actors, singers and improvisers. Many different registers of performance cohabit the institution, mixing inscrutable role-play scenarios, experimental sketch comedy, hyperactive spectatorship, melodramatic operatic interlude, prog-rock micro-dance and teary-eyed theoretical soliloquy. Combining futurology with satire, this exhibition transmutes the seeds of prevalent approaches to visual arts performance as a form of generative critique.

Directed by Michael Portnoy
Choreography by Michael Portnoy in collaboration with the performers.
Performers: Mark Bellamy, Thomas Dudkiewicz, Jimmy Guacamole, Margo van de Linde, Keyna Nara, Evelyne Rossie, Loveday Smith, Gerrie de Vries
Curators: Defne Ayas and Natasha Hoare
Dramaturgy Advisor: Maaike Gouwenberg
Production Assistant: Sten Saarits

Download exhibition guide

Collected reviews from The Liverpool Biennial