January 31, 2009

mac daddy comes to town

I live in a town that honours and appreciates creativity. All acts of creativity. Some might even say ANY acts of creativity. There's a lot to be said for that kind of supportive environment. I've certainly benefited from it. The flip side of that cultural coin however is that it can lead to a lack of distinction at times between acts of creative expression (art therapy?) and works of art. Works that are based on technique, mastery, a deep understanding of both the historical and contemporary context of the medium. Works that have a conceptual underpinning or that have a distinct point of view or that bring something new to the table.

Those of us who appreciate that distinction have come to accept that (not always but) for the most part, we need to go Outside of our community to satisify our art cravings. Nakai Theatre's Pivot Festival may just be changing that.

I don't know how they did it, but the organizers this year gave audiences the gift of New York performance artist Taylor Mac (seen in this Whitehorse Star photo). To call him a drag queen doesn't somehow do him justice. Mac lulls you into a false sense of comfort with his garish make-up and over the top attire only to hit you with a sucker punch of such poignancy and heartbreak you're laughing hysterically one minute and crying the next. With stories and songs he tells of growing up different in a family and a society where the desperate need to conform results in acts of such humiliation and degradation it boggles the mind and makes David Sedaris' family seem like a hallmark movie of the week. We caught a sneak peek of his Be(A)st show which included an imagined encounter between Mrs Dick Cheney and Saddam Hussein exposing their humanity in a most unexpected way. Truly the week art came to town.

Mac, seen in this Yukon News photo performing with local art-star-in-the-making Joseph Tisiga in his (also fantastic) "Late Nite With Grey Owl."

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