Untitled Public Performance Observation
Last updated: Oct 7, 2020
12:16PM Monday Afternoon
Soundtrack: first few tracks of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green
Location: The slightly rotting bench outside where Pel’s Pie used to be.
I don’t usually take many notes during a performance, but given the lack of plot or structure associated with Untitled Public Performance, I was expecting to have difficulty following its internal logic and keeping track of which events took place in which order.
The first striking thing about the performance is the dominant presence of cars. Even among pedestrians and other vehicles (bikes, public buses), private SUVs stand out more than anything, often painted in dull colors, often the driver is the only passenger. The vehicular choreography is complex: the cars come in regular extended pulses, and only when they are gone do the granny carts and bicycles seem to appear, sometimes in groups of as many as four or five. Music from passing cars occasionally cuts through the soundtrack. A forklift blocks traffic briefly. I can just see the fire station on the right edge of the visible performance space, although as the performance goes on the absence of a siren is more and more conspicuous.
Many cars occupy the maroon bus lane, despite a visible blue sign prohibiting that behavior. As a result, the rhythm also features buses (routes B44 and B49) passing through that lane and then cars returning to take their place. Two pedestrians are waiting by the bus stop, but I watch them choose not to get on the bus a couple times. It’s not clear what they are waiting for. The performance space is so vast and active that I begin to get distracted and when I look back towards the waiters they have disappeared as if through a trap door.
I’m wearing a mask but the lighting is so bright I wish I had also brought sunglasses. At some point the audience becomes aware of a man walking from apartment building to apartment building with a granny cart. He picks bottles one at a time from recycling bins, shakes them clear of liquid, and puts them in his cart. The action is repeated the entire time.
There is a pair of gold-glitter shoes sitting on the seat next to me–I remain unsure if they were left there by another audience member (saving a seat?) or if they are intended as part of the performance.
Bicycles use the bus lane also, during the periods when cars do not fill the road. The show’s pedestrians typically walk through independently or in groups of two, with facemasks sometimes worn, sometimes pulled down or held, and sometimes absent. The first act ends with two men rolling a cart of hot tar through the intersection.
Action continues through the intermission.
For the second act, I am glad to have a pair of sunglasses, although I think the lighting may have shifted to be less oppressive. A man walks across the space directly in front of me, first from right to left, then back from left to right.
While they were present in the first act, dogs and scooters seem to be much more prominent in act two. Several blue scooters move through the intersection. A blue car with an empty balloon or some sort of cushion tied to its right front bumper rolls up the street. A bell tolls and the siren of a fire engine finally rips through the air. A woman rolls a blue stroller up to a shop with a blue canopy, across the street from the ramen shop painted blue and under the blue sign that forbids cars in the bus lane. As the act draws to a close, the siren of a fire engine can be heard while a police car, white with blue stripes, rolls up the street.