Peter Baren's performance from his newest series Blind Dates With The History Of Mankind (Rage and Time) addressed politics as well, albeit in a less literal, more metaphorical manner. The performance, which takes its name from Barens' book of the same title, references a history of revolutionary ideas and actions. Originally trained as a painter and visual artist, and also with a background in theatre productions, Baren created a Gesamtkunsteffect, or total artwork that involves all of the senses in a transdisciplinary spectacle of movement, language, text, and texture. Baren's Blind Dates With The History Of Mankind addressed political language. In this case, it was the Socialist/Marxist language of the avant-garde. Blind Dates grew out of the Ark series. These performances, which harked back to the spectacles of the Vienna Actionists/Hermann Nitsch, included fog, saran wrapped performers, dervishes/dancers, blindfolded performers (including Baren), molasses, and mopping the floor. Blind Dates With The History Of Mankind drew specifically upon several of Baren's earlier works, including Ark: Featuring Blind Dates, Orphaned Whisperings And Other Unknown Pleasures from 2007-12 and Blind Dates With the History of Mankind (Venice, Italy 2013–the first performance in the BDWTHOM series). The former included a man, eyes covered with a painted censor bar reading while riffling Peter Sloterdijk's Zorn und Zeit (Rage and Time), in which Sloterdijk characterized rage as a psycho political force throughout history, while the latter distilled the earlier pieces into a molasses stained white shirt which Baren carried along with a texted wirra (Australian boomerang) for four days.
BDWTHOM (Rage and Time) began with Baren's trademark fog. Entering the space, Baren, his eyes covered with a painted black censor bar, wrote the word Hope on the floor, in several languages, making a kind of spoked wheel-like diagram. "KEEP YOUR VACUUMS CLEAN!" (1) was heard during the process.
Periodically Baren would lead other performers into the space, at first two saran-wrapped and molasses drenched runners (PROGRESS PROGRESS), who move sideways alongside the asclepius (infinity sign) untill clashing into eachother, untill the next clash, again and again.
Next a figure, also with painted censor bar, in a suit who moved from spoke to spoke and read riffled fragments from Rage and Time. Shuffling from one spot to the next one, after every repetitive action this figure would finish the fragment with bringing the book towards the face and a deep sigh was produced. A (string of) white handkerchief(s) was pulled out of the chestpocket, one by one. At the end of performance the string ended up on the floor.
When one of the runners would be in front of the reader while speaking aloud, this figure would stay running on the spot until no more text was exclamated… and continued sideways again. "NOS, O POVO CEGO?!" [translated: ARE WE THE BLIND PEOPLE?! (2)] was heard in between actions. Last a sock clad whirling dervish was lead in to rotate slower and faster on the spot.
The performance ended when the man in the suit had completed the circle of spokes. Baren led the running figures out of the space first, then the reader and as last figure the dervish.
Baren's performance concluded with a meditation on labor, ideas and political action. The audience began to clap, but it turned out that the performance had not yet ended–Baren returned with a mop and bucket, exhorting again the audience to consider "PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER! PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!"(3) while cleaning up the mess. Dripping molasses, sweat, politics, rage and frustration–all was mopped up at the end, cleaned up and sanitized. But can rage, politics and revolution be so easily washed away with the sweep of a mop? The answer is NO. Baren emphasized his refusal to capitulate by singing aloud "THERE IS A GARDEN AT THE BOTTOM!" (4) when the mop and stained shirt were held up. As the audience huffled around, moving in and out of the space, unsure of whether or not the performance had ended and no doubt hoping to be included in the festivities that followed the final performance, Baren stood alone, continuing to insist that he will keep texting on!
(1) "KEEP YOUR VACUUMS CLEAN!" Songline by Nasmak
(2) "NOS, O POVO CEGO?! /ARE WE BLIND PEOPLE?!" Songline by Moyseis Margues
(3) "PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!" Songline by Patti Smith
(4) "THERE IS A GARDEN AT THE BOTTOM!" Songline by The Associates
1.Performance Suite Guangzhou CN 2010 [Progress Progress] photo Luo Ming.
2. Performance Suite Guangzhou CN 2010 [Balancing Act] photo Ge Zeng.
3. Performance Suite Leipzig DE 2017 [Dance Of Death] photo Christian Liefke.
4. Performance Suite Belo Horizonte BR 2016 [Rage And Time] photo Victor Gavalcao.
5. Performance Suite Sao Paulo BR 2016 [Culture Clash] photo Edouard Fraipont.
6. Performance Suite Guangzhou CN 2010 [Beggars Banquet] photo Ge Zeng.
7. Performance Suite Guangzhou CN 2010 [Resocialize Crowds] photo Ge Zeng.
8. Performance Suite Mexico City MX 2011 [Grieve] photo Ramon Coelho.
9. Performance Suite Nove Zamky SK 2018 [The Weight Of Love] photo Lehel Toth.
10. Performance Suite Amsterdam NL 2017 [Rush Of Life] photo David Cenzer.
11. Performance Suite Amsterdam NL 2017 [Progress Progress Stranded] photo David Cenzer.
12. Performance Suite The Hague NL 2019 [White Light] photo Jacques Martens.
13. Performance Suite The Hague NL 2019 [Kiss Progress Progress] photo Jacques Martens.
14. Performance Suite Mexico City MX 2011 [Progress Progress Grounded] photo Ramon Coelho.
15. Performance Suite Sao Paulo BR 2016 [Whirling Body] photo Edouard Fraipont.
Selected performances and presentations: Twelve Years: The Archives of A Scene. UP-ON Live Art festival 2008 - 2020. Lushan Art Museum, Chengdu CN/ 1. CINE+PERFO Festival FIPFA. Peras de Olmo, Buenos Aires, AR/ WHAT REMAINS: On The Sacred, The Lost And The Forgotten Relics Of Live Art. ARC Gallery, Chicago US/ 8th UP-ON Live Art Festival. Chengdu CN/ Trans Art Communication#30. Nové Zámky SK/ Fractured Bodies. TEMPTING FAILURE#18. International Biennial of Performance Art and Noise. London UK/ FLAM VII. On Alterity. Arti et Amicitiae/ theater Frascati, Amsterdam NL/ BLAUVERSCHIEBUNG No10. Internationales performancekunst festival. Galerie KUB/ MdbK Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig DE/ ART ROTTERDAM. INTERSECTIONS. Rotterdam NL [with FLAM]/ VERBO 12. Mostra de performance arte. Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo BR/ MIP3. Manifestação Internacional de Performance. SESC Palladium, Belo Horizonte BR/ 10th Préavis de Désordre Urbain. Marseille FR/ RAPID PULSE #5. Defibrillator Gallery, Chicago US/ Once upon a time…the collection now. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven NL/ STAGE IT! Series of presentations on performance art. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam NL/ DEFRAMED. INFR'ACTION VENEZIA 2. City of Venice IT/ EXIST-ENCE. 5 International Festival. Queensland College of Art Project Gallery, Brisbane/ A For Atlas, Melbourne/ PACT, Sydney AU/ TRANSMUTED International Performance Art Festival. Ex Teresa Arte Actual. Mexico City MX/ GUANGZHOU LIVE 1. 53 Art Museum, Guangzhou CN/ NATIONAL REVIEW OF LIVE ART. Tramway, Glasgow UK/ BLURRR 5. The Fifth Biennial of Performance Art. Center for Contemporary Art/ CCA and the city,Tel Aviv IL/ ALTERED STATES. LIVE Biennale 2005, Vancouver CA/ CURRENCY 2004. International Festival of Contemporary Performance. New York US/
Thank you: Martin Renteria, Rose Akras, Marcos Gallon, Zhou Bin, Ann Demeester, Jonas Stampe, Nikki Milican, Rokko Juhasz, Christine Bouvier, Marco Paulo Rolla, Jolanda Jansen, T J Bacon.