While most people in Austin are too busy standing in bars listening to bands they probably don’t care for, some of the world’s most progressive and forward-thinking individuals in the performing arts are making history in our own city. The annual Fusebox Festival is the best place to experience some of the most dynamic and inspiring action in the contemporary scene. From avant garde food tastings and video installations to a talking artificial intelligence William Shatner—take that, ACL—the Fest no doubt has something that will satisfy anyone’s artistic palette. Fusebox wrangles vanguard talent from all corners of the globe, including Austin, into a two-week smorgasbord that offers a diversified spectrum of the contemporary performance and installation art scene. Below are some highlights of this massive event, giving you a peek into some of the engaging and provocative shows that the festival has to offer.
Whether we admit it or not, we all love trash culture of some variety. Blatant sexual objectification, idiocy, alcoholic frenzies, and fits of rage can be experienced just by turning the dial to the right station. Now, you don’t have to get cable to get all of that yumminess. Austin’s own transgressive drag, um, thing is beer-bonging it to you all at once.
Christeene has been characterized as being “a sexually infused sewer of live rap and vile shamelessness, capable of adapting amazingly well to all styles of music.” Looking like your favorite pop starlet if she was a homeless crack fiend, Christeene is a candid look behind the curtain of pop culture.
“Christeene feeds you the turd of trash culture that you eat every day,” said Paul Soileau. “S(he) merely takes the sugar off of it and presents it in its raw form.”
At the same time, Christeene isn’t just about being as confrontational as possible. It also serves as a possibility to experience those raw sensations and transgressive sexuality that we have been prohibited from, allowing us to bask in all of our raw urges if only for the length of a concert.
“I think Christeene violates all of our normalities and the perception of dualities of all sorts,” said Soileau. “Is this sexual or gross? Is this good or bad? Am I only turned on by this or that? Christeene is exciting to let people experience those feelings but not get in trouble for it.”
For more information about Christeene, you can go to the website christeene.org.
The Duplicates: Elvis Machine
If there is any approximation of eternity, we need only cast our eyes towards Graceland. A place where Elvis indeed lives, until the sun burns out, in the infinite amount of objects that the world has dispersed his soul into. Elvis Machine explores this concept of Elvis resurrecting in the form of his myriads of memorabilia.
“I was intrigued about how my idea of Elvis was completely wrong after visiting Graceland,” said set designer Rowan Doyle. “I was really interested in how we make assumptions about people regarding the things they own and wear and how Elvis himself became an object.”
The show is being put on by a motley crew of UT grad students, the Duplicates. The Duplicates’ shows are a sight to behold, mixing a number of different mediums together such as clowning, puppetry, high technology and collage.
Following in this spirit of mashing up of old mediums together to create a new one, Elvis Machine is being staged at a parking lot at the old airport off of Manor. In addition, the show is being presented in the form of a drive-in movie experience where patrons will experience the show from their cars by tuning their radios to a specific frequency and the stage will be in the form of a movie screen.
“I definitely think it is going to be a new experience,” said Doyle. “I was thinking about the difference between live performance and film… We are trying to bridge those two things with this show.”
Brian Osborne: The WORD: A House Party for Jesus
It is time for a revival of sincerity. The cold dominion of irony and sarcasm has reigned for far too long, ridding everything of meaning, feeling and substance. Brian Osborne is resurrecting this lost feeling through his one-man show, “The WORD: A House Party for Jesus.” Osborne embodies the convincing and fervent temperament of an evangelical preacher in order to secularly take us to a higher place.
The show deftly combines stream of consciousness rants, sermonizing, stand-up comedy and dance music into a rich smoothie of entertainment and inspiration. Just as people plop down twenty dollars to attend a tent revival for spiritual and entertainment purposes, Osborne hopes people will have the opportunity to experience both of those things at House Party, but without the monotheistic message.
“It takes its cues from the evangelical faith which has its lineage from the more performative side of Christianity while not necessarily working with a Christian message,” said Osborne. “In essence, my intention with doing the show every single night is to lift people up.”
Indeed, Osborne’s project seems to be re-claiming the space of the theater as an opportunity for community, connection and transcendence, not merely a space for crossing arms and passive voyeurism.
“I want to create a genuine journey that grounds itself in a sermon,” said Osborne. “I want to experience theatre as a holy space; a space where we should be as daring, weird, wonderful and honest as we can possibly be.”
Tickets and information regarding Fusebox shows can be purchased at www.fuseboxfestival.com