Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: Great Feminism Survives In Absurdity

By Ed Malin

Sometimes it’s not just the words, it’s how they slap you that leaves a lasting impression. The witty and enigmatic Kim Katzberg and Tom X. Chao have a new show entitled Hot For Feminist Theory Professor at The Brick as part of This Is Not Normal: An Arts and Action Festival.  The language employed is hell on books like bell hooks.  The onstage and video action are indeed hot, the kind of suggestive that you might not expect to find on the campus of the College of Low Hills.
photo by Matthew Kohn
As the 40-minute blitz opens, Professor Losstt-Keyes (Katzberg) is watching her feminist theory students present their thoughts on vaginas, of which we are only fortunate enough to catch one student’s poem on the “aboriginal paintings I found in my cave”.  Dennis Quan of the Office of Pedagogy and Learning (Chao) enters, surprised to find that the room has been double-booked for Losstt-Keyes’s and his seminars. From Losstt-Keyes’s crushing handshake, it seems as though she likes Quan.  They reminisce about a concert on campus several years ago, during which The Carnivore Killers played and frat boys started beating vegans.  After that event, all campus concerts were banned, and it looks like Losstt-Keyes and Quan haven’t had much fun lately. However, Quan’s niceties earn him shoves and the threat of a restraining order from Losstt-Keyes.  He only said that her dress reminded him of a spring day, in a painting by Klimt, which he had only seen in reproductions.   “Do you get paid by the adjective?” Losstt-Keyes asks him harassingly, after she follows him to the faculty lounge.   After much avoidance, she rubs up against his body.  What if the Bursar were to walk in?
“Why do you narrate everything?” she asks in the way many scientific-minded men have been upbraided by women.
Ultimately, Quan is invited to Losstt-Keyes’s place, where he meets her cat, Susan B. Anthony Dollar.  The two lonely academics share several kinds of intimacy, but I think the emotional kind was the most beautiful and fulfilling.
It is all quite absurd, which is why Quan constantly protests his entrapment by the patriarchy and why Losstt-Keyes takes these apologies as consent to abuse him. I think this is a very entertaining show from artists whose understatement is your gain.  Feminism is, of course, vindicated.  It’s 2017, for goodness sakes.