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PERFORMANCE ART REVIEW

A dystopia that disappoints

June 16, 2003|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

Who knew that 21st century performance art might look like either stand-up comedy without cocktails or an abbreviated psychoanalytic session as imagined by a hyperactive kewpie doll?

That's what the evening "Grand Dystopia" felt like at Highways Performance Space on Friday when Nurit Siegel and Kristina Sheryl Wong presented their one-person shows.

Actually, Siegel's 25-minute "Classical Conditioning," directed by Courtney Vine, also featured Erin Rae and Krista Bermeo, two babes sporting blond wigs and pink uniforms assisting Siegel in her journey: from birth through babydom (watching "Teletubbies" in Jason Jenn's rear-projected film) to a bouquet-throwing bride who graduates to booze -- and boot camp.

Siegel, an endearing presence, has a buoyant if limited movement vocabulary, but her ideas feel slightly stale and undeveloped: Her aides-de-camp blow up condoms and prick them with pins; womanhood is signified by red lipstick and puce pumps; and Siegel ultimately ends up a heap on the floor.

Wong's minimally amusing, 35-minute "Free?" saw the chatty performer doing characters, from Asian rapper and SARS-paranoid daughter to bespectacled auctioneer selling off remnants of her life.

Wong's finale spoofed her own performance artist persona: Moving among the audience she screeched, "Look into my vagina."

Thanks, but no thanks.

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