Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
October 30–November 3, 2019
Roomful of Teeth, the supporting instrumentalists, and the primary vocal performers Alicia Hall Moran and Isaiah Robinson were paramount in the entire ceremonial invocation and exorcism of Robert Mapplethorpe. I’m still processing and loving this evening. Jared, we missed you; kisses.
In an admittedly puerile yet deliciously dissociative series of moments the generally stodgy vanilla Brahmins squirmed (writhed? shuddered? came?) all around us as a seemingly unending barrage of monumental units and fetish gear slowly panned around. Imagine prime late 80’s tasteful B&W Very Gay bondage porn set to Björk’s Medulla on blast OR Phillip Glass’ take on a Star Trek IV inspired human-cetacean collaborative powered by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and that’s kind of how one of the best hour of my Art World life (thus far) could be relayed at your next water cooler conversation. Because people read this in the first place, right? trollolololol.
The first summoning movement split me open like a pomegranate and I am not ashamed that its poetry, sound, voices, and music had tears flat out flowing down my face like the Mother Nile. The second movement was largely about Mapplethorpe’s obscenity trial in Cincinnati. Art and artists being censored feels (in someways) tired, but in seeing how my fellow LGBTQQAI+ folx on Instagram and beyond have and are currently being de-platformed, de-monetized, etc. for so much less than what Bobby ever photographed, it has alarm bells ringing relevance. Q: You know what’s really tired, actually? A: Censoring artists, knock it off, fuckers.
The third and final movement addressed a few things long, long overdue and for this I was very grateful. Largely for the voyeuristically Art-World-BDSM experience of silently giggling as Nana dutifully contemplated, meditated upon, desperately bargained for a more tidy meaning from a 19 foot intact black penis projected in front of a wailing primal chorus of raging, turgid, homosexuality. Yeah, but really though:
Mapplethorpe definitely, absolutely exploited black men, their bodies, and the septic history of race of the whole undead shebang within the U.S. To have this play in front of a 2019 Boston audience was kind of a mind fuck, but in a better way than how things usually are in this city. Intentionality is a super complicated thing, it’s even worse when you’re trying to parse that out on behalf of a man whomst is v dead. I can only hope that the loving embraces were wanted, the caresses and sweet nothings were consensual, reciprocated. It’s still wrong that he didn’t compensate accordingly. It’s refreshing to have a production like this paint due accountability with such a broad brush. My never ending prayer: Men will be accountable for their actions.
Personally, regarding my own interests, I do wish that there was slightly more of a visual dialogue regarding Subject as objects and Object as subjects, Flowers vs. The Black Book contents. The denial of identity, phenomenological subjectivity, humanity is an enticing power trip, one that has far too many well lubricated slippery slopes.
They had a spotlight and camera with a mic for folks to give their initial reactions to the production at the doors when we were leaving. I would love very much to see what some of my fellow Bostonians had to say. From how quickly they threw on their coats before the musicians even had a chance to receive their due accolades, I can only imagine.
The safeword is: Joan Quigley.