If the National Association of Fetishists hasn’t already made plans for its 2011 convention, the group might want to get to Montclair State University (New Jersey) by Jan. 30. Today's ARTKABINETT social network for fine art collectors offers video excerpts of the striking work, Prometheus. The work is the creation of multi-modal artist, Jan Fabre.
Fabre has had an exhibition of his drawings, sculptures and installations at the Louvre; he covered the Hall of Mirrors in the Royal Palace in Brussels with the wing cases of nearly a million beetles; and he was an artistic adviser to the Avignon Festival. He has toured the Continent in the various guises of theater director, opera director, choreographer, performance artist and playwright.
Peak Performances, the state’s most audaciously avant-garde presenting organization, has brought in a very kinky production. A half-century ago, Jan Fabre’s “Prometheus — Landscape II” would have resulted in a dozen indecent exposure arrests.
Those who know their Greek mythology will remember that Prometheus infuriated the great god Zeus by giving mere mortals the gift of fire. Zeus didn’t want to share it, so he punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock.
That is a mere jumping off point for Fabre (pictured here), who conceived, directed, designed and co-wrote (with Jeroen Olyslaegers) this 90-minute bacchanal.
As the audience files in, it sees sitting onstage a virtually naked man, who admits to the press that he’s 350 pounds. (And you were ashamed to wear a bathing suit last summer.)
Although he’s tied in rope, he is not Prometheus, but just an unnamed presence who’s been enlisted to set the sexually explicit tone.
Fabre starts with an arresting image: two performers enter and each lights a cigarette. That’s one use for fire. The woman delivers an oration while the man comments. Once a scrim is raised, a muscle-bound man is seen only in his tighty-whities. He’s hanging above the stage, with each of his arms and legs extended as far as they can stretch, all tied by rope.
That’s our Prometheus. For 85 of the 90 minutes, he won’t say a word. His main job is just to hang there. (And his mother probably told him that he’d never make it as an actor.)
Then the rest of the cast enters. A young woman crawls across the stage with a horse saddle on her back. A man simulates pounding a stick into the lower part of a woman’s body. A naked man simulates masturbation; nothing is left to the imagination.
But Fabre is an equal opportunity nudity-dispenser. There’s plenty of female flesh on display, too. In once scene, duct tape is used to bind a woman’s waist and legs.
But by far, the most important ingredient in the show is sand. Most every cast member pours a full bucket over his own head, and then sticks his head in the bucket.
More often, everyone throws sand at someone else — especially at a couple who’s been busy at (let’s use a euphemism) lovemaking. Poor Prometheus must endure a good five minutes — no, a bad five minutes — in which the rest of the cast pelts him with bucket after bucket.
Although there’s a great deal of sand, the show is no day at the beach. You may ask what all this has to do with the Prometheus legend. Anyone’s stab at an interpretation is as good as anyone else’s, but here’s one: Because one actor sings the Doors’ hit “Light My Fire,” one could assume that Fabre is thinking of the sexual connotation of fire. Maybe great sex is what Zeus didn’t want us to have.
Prometheus — Landscape II
Where: Peak Performances, Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair State University, Normal and Valley Roads, Montclair
When: Through Jan. 30. Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.
How much: $15. Call (973) 655-5112 or visit peakperfs.org.