Joseph Keckler, a performance artist from NYC graced Baltimore with a unique performance during Saturday night’s Floristree lineup at the 2010 Transmodern Festival. Keckler captured the audiences attention with music, video performance and several monologues, which seemed to flow effortlessly.
He was recently profiled by Bret McCabe in Citypaper, and has been featured in NY Press,The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Observer, The Guardian and SPIN. Keckler has performed nationally and abroad, here is what he had to say about his performance in Baltimore.
How did you get into performance art?
What made me do it? The imp of the perverse.
I work in several media and want to transform myself into a human gesamtkunstwerk. But why stop at human? How about a feline gesamtkunstwerk.
How did you get involved with the Transmodern festival?
My sister-in-crime Erin Markey (video performance) played Transmodern last year, so I heard about the festival from her. I’ve performed in Baltimore a couple of times, crossing paths with great people such as Ric Royer, Catherine Pancake, and Rahne Alexander.
How did/do you decide what you are going to perform, what factors do you think about it?
I generally consider the venue and context and the type of crowd expected and I gauge what would be appropriate. Then I decide how appropriate I want to be– there have been instances in which I’ve inflicted dense, gothic, maundering monologues on drunken club kids and drag queens in the middle of the night. Someday they’ll thank me for it.
How would you describe tonight’s performance?
Tonight’s performance incorporated monologues, songs, and videos. I did a version of “Venus in Furs” at the piano, preceded by a monologue from the perspective of Wanda von Sacher Masoch, a monologue about office work, and an original song about a mysterious creature.
My sets are becoming more improvised and elastic. In part, I decided what material I would do as I was on stage. I shared with the audience some dreams I’d just had on my afternoon bus ride. Oh, and then we had a surprise visit from a cat, who pussyfooted around the stage for a spell. I wish every show had a cat cameo. A cat-eo.
(Video is from Saturday’s performance)
How do you think you were received?
I was received very well. In fact, it felt so great that I got carried away and extended my set, singing my encore as my closer. Then when the audience asked for more I stood there in the darkness, registering the error of my ways.
What did you think of the Transmodern festival? What about Baltimore?
I love the Transmodern Festival and I have a fantastic experience every time I’m in Baltimore. The Baltimore art scene seems to have a distinct and wonderful energy, engagement, ethic, and enthusiasm– all the E’s, really.
I downed a healthy dose of Baltimore art on Sunday morning. After watching a troupe who made these elaborate costumes out of trash and recyclables, I shared a sailboat ride with a giant hedge costume/sculpture/set piece, and the girl who made it. The underlying structure consisted of pieces of foam, stapled together. The artist commented “I built this the way someone trying to keep Zombies out would board up their window.”
What’s next for you?
I’m working on an album, which will come out in June. It will also be released in Italy with a book written by the poet Gian Maria Annovi.