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sue carman-vian at detroit contemporary
The Performance Years (1985-2014)
From 1985 to 2014 Carman Vian has written, directed and produced 10 full length Performance Art productions with her dynamic cast and crew that she calls “The Catharctic Circle.” She plays the pivotal role in her invented narratives of life events. Elaborate costumes, full scale original films and music are all layered with live stage action. The mundane and surreal stories relate back and forth as their themes are universal and therefore strangely familiar. Some Highlights are:
Red Rover played between religious and bird cardinals
An oversized can-can dress dances by itself
A dog headed tap dancer performs
The urban corset squeezes out the greenbelt of the environmental goddess
Fully dressed characters fly out of a pool onto a dock
Mirrored dress woman sees her soulmate’s reflection
A Van Gogh Kit, razor and bandage included, help ponder the question of fame
Poet John Keats’ words matched against Blair French/Dial 81 rapper
Chandelier Girl lights up a whole stage
Cross Gender Carla Von Bitchin Ho asks the LGBT questions
This exhibition is an opportunity to time-travel witness Sue Carman-Vian’s lavishly imaginative films. It Takes One To Be One is striking in its over-the-top costuming complete with Marie Antoinette cotton-candy hair tower snagged with birds and roses. The photographs capture key moments including Chandelier Girl in all her luminosity.
Carman-Vian has graciously offered paid subscribers a screening of Comfort Buns. In this film she explores the universal search for comfort and peace through her unique brand of communication and humor.
Greenhouse addresses climate change way before it entered common vernacular. Even the Green Goddess requires a bustier to keep up the effort to save our luscious planet.
Breakfast Performance is an early foray into this genre. Not fully realized, yet contains her trademark poignant messaging, the seeds of brilliance are germinating.
These artifacts reveal Carman’s process and development of her performances. Through images, notes and drawings, the viewer gets to take the thoughtful, sometimes random ride from scene to scene including instructions on color and patterning as well as how to properly dunk a doughnut. The exhibition is peppered with Carman-Vian’s graphite drawings—refer to the Greenhouse image—that deftly deliver potent dreamscape narratives in one metaphorical still without needing to rely on color for punctuation.
As one who met Carman-Vian just in time to catch her last live performance at Good Cakes and Bakes, I was overwhelmed by the breadth of ingenuity I’d sadly missed out on. Viewing this retrospective showcasing her remarkable talent spanning several genres with no loss of currency blew me away.
Carman-Vian has alternated painting, drawing and performance art throughout her career as well as participating in performances by other area artists. The casts and crews of her Catharctic Circle included fellow artists Rose DeSloover, Holly Branstner, Jeff Bloomer, Christine Hagedorn, Marilyn Zimmerman, Dennis Jones, Jennifer Jones, Lynn Galbreath, Russell Taylor, Frank Pahl, Blair French/Dial 81, Nelson Smith and Rick Vian.
On view through June 26th at detroit contemporary 487 W Alexandrine Detroit
Artist talk June 18th at 6P
*images are mine
direct quote from gallery materials
SHOWS OPEN THIS WEEKEND
Brain Candy Monday June 20th only