Metal Rouge. Photo by Lemule Barbour

Matthew Mcauley. Photo by Carissa Pelleteri

When I arrived at White Slab Palace, a stripped down art space in the heart of the lower east side on Saturday night, I had little idea of what to expect. The event, Paradise Now! curated by Artcard’s own Helen Homan Wu, proved to be a cultural tour de force, combining the work of six musicians, three visual artists, and the improvisational poetic styling of poet/writer/DJ Anavelyse.

Sam Hamilton

Jack Kubizne

The performances were collaborative, technologically advanced, and for the most part exuded an aura of intuitiveness. Strewn along the bare walls of the ruff edged venue/art space was the expected array of pedals, wires, instruments and impressive looking amps. This made electronic musician Dalot’s performance all the more impactful. Seated calmly at a table, laptop at the ready, she was the rock in a sonic downpour of ethereal noise. The swirling, ebb and flow blended overhead with the accompaniment of Jack Kubizne’s inspired visuals. That the, shifting, pulsing, vibrating projections – which also accompanied most of the artists – in a real-time performance made them all the more impressive. I was reminded of Takeshi Murato’s carefully edited video pieces, and wondered at the mastery of this digital happening. New Zealand based Sam Hamilton’s dream-inducing electronic sounds, and awe inspiring self produced video piece seemed to reach out from across space and grab me by the face. Indeed, throughout his performance I felt as if I were being pulled head first into a mystic trance.



Metal Rouge

Metal Rouge

Perhaps the most surprising performance of all was collaboration by saxophonist Matthew Mcauley and performance artist David Bernstein. Mcauley’s sounds were mesmerizing and shifted between contemplative, melancholic, and jarring. They accompanied a starkly lit performance by Bernstein, who in farmer’s overalls glided blithely through the room, in a graceful yet slapstick struggle to build a house of balsa wood and twine. What started as a constructive act, ended in struggle, as the ramshackle frame was manipulated to and fro, pulling its creator across the “stage”, ending as a collapsed assemblage of wood, twine and tape. Bernstein ends the piece gazing down at a pile of detritus, ultimately planting a “for sale” sign to walk away without a look back.

David Bernstein and Matthew Mcauley

Though more traditional in its medium and delivery than other performances in this showcase Mcauley and Bernstein’s collaboration symbolized what was great about “Paradise Now!.” What started for me as a night of lighthearted cultural dalliance revealed itself to be an experience of true discovery, and a credit to the latent emotional potential of performance as an art.

Photos: Carissa Pelleteri