Zomboid! Film/Performance Project #1

Written, designed and directed by Richard Foreman. With ensemble cast. Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Marks Church.

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MOTION PICTURES Live actors pose against Foreman's video.

MOTION PICTURES Live actors pose against Foreman's video. Photo: Paula Court

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Last year, Richard Foreman's fans were shocked to hear that the avant-garde icon was packing up his string and dadaist props to embark on a late-life exploration of multimedia performance. Would a gaping hole be left in the New York experimental- theater scene? Would Foreman become an even more hermetic artist, mixing videos in solitude and exhibiting them in Chelsea galleries? Such hysteria was premature: Foreman is back, like clockwork, with a winter show that pretty much looks like the previous ones. Only this time there are tall video screens looming over the action.

In truth, Foreman has always been part installation artist. His first works from the late '60s used nonactors and dialogue on tape in disorienting dioramas. The video in Zomboid!, shot in Australia, features posed people staring impassively at the camera, creeping in and out of frame, and putting on or removing white blindfolds. Below these eerie, meditative images (reminiscent of video artist Bill Viola), a quintet of mostly silent performers in outlandish leather-and-tartan outfits enact Foreman's patented dance of posing with props and staring at the audience. If you were to pluck a theme from this dense assemblage of video clips, God-like voiceovers and lights flashed in one's eyes, it could be the strange, reality-gobbling nature of film; giant eyeballs and blindness feature prominently. Mainly, though, Foremaniacs can exult: Richard hasn't left us, he just has a shiny new toy.—David Cote

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