By Bob Shuman
John Fleck might say that America has just elected a simulacrum as president, a “place marker for the real item.” The concept, discussed by French post-structuralist Jean Baudrillard, has a spectrum of meanings: one, the “perversion of reality,” which probably interests Fleck the most, since, as a member of the NEA4, he was called obscene (by conservative politicians led by Jesse Helms). The artist sued (and won, with three other performance artists) in federal district court, regarding “‘the so-called ‘standards of decency’ provision,” which grant recipients, at the time, were forced to accept. But that was the ‘90s. Today, the Internet may be in danger of further censorship and Americans wonder if they are being politically correct. Fortunately, Fleck is still obscene, and is performing now at New York’s Dixon Place, 11/12, 18, and 19.
He’s also oral: time the speed of his delivery or watch him open his mouth to do imitations of motors, dogs, birds, or squeaky doors in the night. He simulates oral sex, too. Maybe he’s just been mentally arrested at the entry point of early adolescence, at a fevered place of sexual confusion, where hormones are teeming and aren’t quite adjusted to the bloodstream. He cannot be liable to any societal norms, or else he’d break them, whether there is a philosophic argument behind his work or not—in fact it may remind of gay porn in the ‘70s, and maybe thereafter—when rebellion is what matters; rebellion is all that matters, against women, especially.
That’s the mood of Fleck’s new gothic horror one-man show called Blacktop Highway, which is an unsold movie script, narrated aloud, with video footage and Matchbox cars, and which includes camera angles and sound cues. The story takes place in Maine, but a creepy-clown, low-budget, black-and-white, Psycho Maine, where a young girl is being raised by sexual predators and is corrupted herself—of course, it’s a comedy. Baudrillard might say the story has become so far removed from truth that it becomes its own truth, which some say this political season has also been. Outside, Fifth Avenue is blocked for the third straight day, as chanting protesters are walking to Trump Tower–policemen are carrying rifles–and The New York Times has written a letter to its readers saying that it will be telling the truth in the future, after presenting skewed information in favor of Democrats during this political season. In theatre, which is a lie, John Fleck has become interested in virtual reality, but, actually, all of us have had to.
Visit Dixon Place: http://dixonplace.org/
Press: Glenna Freedman
Art: NEA4–Nerd City Guides; Fleck: LA Weekly.
Copyright © 2016 by Bob Shuman. All rights reserved.