Late Nights at the Whitney
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Dark fantasies and primordial urges lurking beneath the surface of day-to-day life are the subject matter of this installation, in which an animatronic teenage boy engages in an unsettling dialogue about evil and the nature of reality with himself via a hand puppet. The project was conceived and created by Gisèle Vienne, much of whose work explores the edges of normative human behavior, often utilizing puppets and human-size dolls. It is her latest collaboration with Dennis Cooper, whose poetry, experimental novels, and short stories have powerfully mined this territory for more than thirty years, inspiring a generation of envelope-pushing artists. The haunted house–like setting of this surreal scene is enhanced by the original music of Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley, both of whom have collaborated with Vienne before. For these artists, working with transgressive material is not solely meant to create shock effects; on the contrary, there is a moral dimension. As Vienne has said, “We need to face horrible things, it’s healthier.” LAST SPRING: A Prequel is, as the title suggests, the prequel to a larger theatrical project, itself designed as a labyrinthine hotel (rendered in the wall drawings on view in the galleries), featuring a series of grotesque horrors and a teenage boy trying, and failing, to escape his own mind.
LAST SPRING: A Prequel is on view in the Museum's fourth floor galleries.