Journal

Orgy of Tolerance May 15, 2009

by Tania Kupczak

"When you sit on your sofa at home in the evening and watch television," says Fabre, "you see so much perversity and violence, such extreme excess, that as an artist you cannot top it."

Many of Jan Fabre’s choices in Orgy of Tolerance make perfect sense in light of this quote. Each "scene" we encounter throughout the evening is a complete and striking image that is sustained with minimal development for a longish duration. I never had the sense that Fabre was tying to top the "perversity and violence" he is referring to – I felt more like he chose a language of perversity and violence to speak in, presumably because that language is what we have all grown accustomed to.

Highlights for me:
The opening of the work. This sex was actually about sex for me, while most of the sex in the show read as a metaphor for consumerism. The performers were bold and entertaining in their masturbating and the duration of the section was essential to it’s content – this duration WAS development. When they dissolved into tears I was emotionally invested and felt empathy for the performers in a way that I did not again during the course of the piece.

The shopping carts. One cart shifting back and forth, seemingly of it's own free will, taunting us as a symbol for having and not having. A Busby Berkely style canon with shopping carts sparkling in the sidelight. And three women birthing snack products into the carts. I could have watched that for hours.

The omnipresent guns strapped to everyone’s backs. Especially on the pregnant ladies. I wanted to enjoy the omnipresent dildos strapped to the guns and dancers' faces as much as I enjoyed the guns, but they were somehow sort of mundane – which is conceptually right on, but doesn’t necessarily make for the most effective theater. Maybe I would have had the opposite experience if I spent more time around guns and less around dildos.

About twenty minutes from the end of the work I started craving some big, gratifying dancing – maybe because I wanted something viscerally easy to watch in contrast to the rather tense visceral experience I had been having – but mostly because the journey of the piece was starting to feel like sex without an orgasm, and I was ready to climax. Thank you Jan – it may have taken a while, and I’m not sure if it was the smartest section of all or the cheapest (although I'd place my wager on smartest), but you certainly gave me just what I wanted in the end.

- Ricki Mason

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