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The Village Voice - April 29, 1997 - Vol. XLII No. 17

Big Chance

Big Art in Small Places returned this year in open defiance of artists who try to iron serendipity out of a final product. Peculiar Works called Sunday's five-hour exhibition of continuous and repeated performances "Art Surfing" -- a chance for audiences to see what they wanted when they wanted. Still, audience discretion ultimately took a backseat to discovery and synchronicity as installations, video monitors, puppet stages, and performance arenas insinuated themselves into every cranny of Judson Church's labyrinthine sprawl. Unless one slinked past the taxi-bumpers installation Carapace and up the back stairs to the balcony, one could only reach the sunny Yalta of The Lady With the Toy Dog by submitting to the chillingly real immigration policies of the Speranga Republic as enforced by the other-lingual cast of Open Eyes. Explorers who braved a spiral staircase behind the altar encountered Questioning the Foundations's biographical clothesline and the claustrophobic rant running the red before finally arriving under the roof at Obsession, a hallway carpeted with rose petals. When transit wasn't the catalyst, proximity created scintilating thematic collisions and collusions. Oh no! Stop it some more, a bawdy romper room equipped with rubber-covered groping booth and curated by fetish-quality schoolgirls, neighbored Yanira Castro's installation, canned cherries, through which she danced less possessed of than possessed by precocious sensuality. Contrapuntally, The Human Resource Project and Privileged and Confidential offered images of an incompletely dehumanized and chas-tity-belted corporate America. With most other claims of "audience participation" proving shallow, "Big Art" reveals promising depths to be plumbed. --Scott Blumenthal