What happens when consensus fails? When the collective makes the wrong choice? In an age of mediated celebritocracy, Is democracy doomed? While answers are hard to come by, some coping mechanisms, as well as strategies for resistance, are offered in Pre-Apocalypse, the group-authored final performance of the Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT), an eight-year project first initiated at the New Museum in 2008. The collective My Barbarian leads an international—and intersectional—group of actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists, in a performance that reflects on the legacies of the Obama era and the new political realities on the horizon. While some may look to art as an escape, the PoLAAT engages the audience with the playful, painful process of being in a group. There is no escape. Enjoy the struggle!
The luminary cast of this, the second of two final PoLAAT performances, both presented at the New Museum as part of the Fall 2016 R&D Season: DEMOCRACY, includes: Morgan Bassichis, Jasmine Hughes, Obehi Janice, Amber Marsh, Sam Greenleaf Miller, Will Rawls, Manuel Rodríguez, Meir Tati, and Larissa Velez-Jackson.
Working at the intersection of theater, visual arts, and critical practice, the collective My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade) uses performance to theatricalize social problems and imagine ways of being together. The group’s New Museum exhibition and residency, “The Audience is Always Right,” are organized as part of the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s R&D Season: DEMOCRACY. The residency will include a series of workshops, performances, and public programs that will culminate the eight-year international tour of My Barbarian’s project the PoLAAT. The performances and workshops will bring together performers and artists from different backgrounds and cultural sites—including choreographers, actors, musicians, and visual artists from Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas—to collectively consider current political situations near and far. The title of the exhibition and related residency takes on a critical and ironic undertone in this dangerous moment when politics are more hyperbolic and spectacle-driven than ever before: “The Audience is Always Right.” Except, of course, when they are wrong.