Review: ‘I Am a Camera’ @ The Neo-Futurists

Are you one of those people who loathe about 97% of the photos you’re in? All you can see is that cheesy grin, shiny forehead and weak chin? For example? The remaining three percent are reserved for those rare photo ops that catch you off guard, looking normal and natural. A genuinely honest moment.

Unless you’re some sort of narcissist, I think we all can relate.

I Am a Camera, an hour-long mixed media performance piece, attempts to explore this idea — the idea that the camera often captures a lie, an exaggeration, a staged memory. And we form and inform our memories around these images that have been strategically arranged and artfully snapped. Who are we? Who are you? Who am I? What is reality? Will we ever know?

Caitlin Stainken and Jeremy Sher serve as the vessels for these ideas, standing before us offering extremely personal information, including their medical histories and Social Security numbers. They struggle to make a connection with each other, often failing, sometimes succeeding. Photographs from Stainken and Sher’s family albums flash in front of us, without much relationship to the current discussion. They use pictures of themselves to communicate with each other, and then communicate with each other about the pictures of themselves.

Big themes here. And I’m not sure Greg Allen, who conceived and directed this experimental piece, really gets into to the core of the matter. A lot of interesting concepts and thoughts are presented on the the Neo-Futurarium’s stage, but many of them languish and go on far too long. The point has been made, but where does he want to take it?

(Special thanks to Monica over at Fragments for letting me tag along!)

“I Am a Camera” plays through March 13 at the Neo-Futurists. More information here >

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