‘Experiment I’ turns a literary event into performance art – Los Angeles Times

Live, unabashed nudity is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a rarity at public literary events. Dance, performance art, wigs, one-liners, keyboards, skateboards, popcorn, dental floss, video loops, audience participation, and even, quite frankly, unfettered joy, also make infrequent appearances on the reading circuit, but Sept. 29 at the newly opened Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, a free event called “Experiment I” managed to contain all this and more.

“People want a playful outlet,” said event curator Michelle Tea, author of cult favorite memoirs “Valencia” and “Rent Girl,” and most recently “Modern Tarot.” As a founding member of the long-running Sister Spit poetry tour, she has curated literary happenings since 1994.

“I like to be surprised and entertained,” she said. “I like to challenge myself and challenge my writer friends to do something different.” Tea billed “Experiment I” as a compilation of “unexpected readings and performance … intended to inspire new thoughts, humor and daredevilry.”

A game of truth or dare initiated by comic Lizzy Cooperman provided perhaps the most direct response to daredevilry, but a presentation from Pave the Way Skateboards, represented by Tara Jepson and Miriam Klein Stahl, author of “Like a Dog” and illustrator of “Rad Women Worldwide,” respectively, saw Jepson wheel across the museum floor to read a queer skateboarding manifesto in heels and tights. Wendy. C. Ortiz, who describes her latest book, “Bruja,” as a “dreamoir,” dared the audience to reveal who among us had dreamed of alligators or matricide. The evening’s opener, the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, performing a partially unclad piece called “Chronic: A Dance About Marijuana,” dared the audience of roughly 50 people to settle in for an experimental experience and open our minds.

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