Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical


Klaus von Nichtssagend is putting on a show tonight, three in fact. Actually the show is being mounted by Ryan McNamara and "his accomplished troupe of actors, singers and dancers", in the gallery's description. They will be describing the story behind the legendary Klaus von Nichtssagend, answering the questions, "Why did he open this space? And why are we all singing?", in "Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical".

But all three performances, at 7, 8 and 9 tonight in Williamsburg, are already sold out (actually, they are free), so unless you've already reserved, you're out of luck. For fans of the growing phenomenon of arts performance, Jacques Vidal and Noel Anderson offer an alternative in Chelsea. Unfortunately it's going to be impossible to make both.

We're definitely in the midst of a period of transition in the visual arts, and it's only partly related to the economy going belly up. Plenty of institutions have survived, and there probably aren't a lot more people creating things this year than the last, but artists aren't waiting for galleries, museums or curators to find them and let them in.

They are creating art which is not just composed of objects - or even mere concepts. I don't know what to call it but it's not just "performance art", because while it owes much to the breakthrough phenomenon associated with the 1960s, it often goes much further. It's definitely not minimal; it loves props; it's virtually a given that recycling of some kind is involved; it will go almost anywhere to put on a show; it sometimes involves large numbers of people who may not be aware of their participation; it doesn't mind leaving behind some objects which, yes, can treated as commodities (product); and it almost always incorporates real humor, even riotous fun. This time around the younger artists are also a much larger genuine community, and they have killer communication tools.

Most lovely for all of us, as in the 60s, this art is free - in every respect.

I love it. I love the energy, the intelligence, the courage, and the infectious wit. I love the community. We may only be passing through a cultural corridor; what will follow is unimaginable to us today, but in the meantime we have these shows - and their enigmatic constructions and relics, the remnants, (and their documentation on gazillions of tiny cameras) to guide us.

[image from Klaus]