“Capitalism excels at innovation but fails at maintenance.”
There is something queer about “Sink”, a political purge in heels, a ritualized communal healing, a street-smart shamanic journey. Something remarkable about how its vague threads, three distinct segments, loosely join together as a substantial art-performance and theater experience. There is something sophisticated in its thrift-shop aesthetic, primitive hand-drawn program cover–a boat sinking, smoke curls coming out of the boat’s funnel, child-like waves crashing, and crescent moon that conspicuously hangs in the obvious place where such a rendering should go, and, the painted splattered and torn hardware tarps that function as stage curtains for the first segment. What magically holds these mystical spinning plates and topical issues into both reality and wonder is its creator, Keith Hennessy. Few performing artists embody their written and improvised narratives as transparently as Hennessy. Few could ask the big questions as sincerely, making their query sound like inspired solutions. Fewer still, as dancers approaching their 60s, have the exuberance, fluidity, and endurance to pounce, prance and jog around on pogo stilts eight feet above the audience seated on the floor, his face and head wrapped with plastic vines like an Amazon rainforest headdress, wearing a rainbow corset made from Maypole ribbons (Jack Davis, costumer.) And, no one serves their grandmother’s hot toddy recipe out of a thermos to the audience in paper cups preshow. No one.
The brilliance about veteran performance artist Hennessey is that he lacks pretention. He is as present and honest serving hot toddies as he is wearing a fur babushka and fur coat while chanting a lament for all the cities and places around the world that have been shot down by gun violence, “Paris, Orlando, New York, Istanbul, Las Vegas…” Effortlessly he moves half the audience on stage into life jackets, (a segment of an opera he is collaborating with artist/activist Ai Weiwei for a performance in Greece,) giving them the lyrics and tune they must sing to the audience still in bleachers. Before long the audience is singing, “Fuck you” back and forth as Hennessey conducts, telling us when to sing like hip-hop and when to embellish with operatic intensity. “Sink” is unsinkable, heavy in content and reality, buoyantly hopeful in its alchemy.
(“Sink” is one of four works linked through the project “freedom?” Aaron Perlstein, 2nd dancer in “Sink.”)