In case you missed it, there was a big piece in the New York Times last week about Odyssey Works, an interesting art collective co-founded by Bernal Neighbor Abe Burickson. Odyssey Works creates site-specific performance pieces for a single person — “an audience of one.” The result is an immersive experience that might be described as a cross between Bertolt Brecht and Allen Funt.
The NYT explains:
For more than a decade a loose-knit, multidisciplinary collective called Odyssey Works has been quietly inverting art’s longstanding arrangement with its audience. Rather than a single artist creating for a general population, it directs many artists at a deeply researched population of one. The intricate creations that converge in the group members’ weekend-long performances — sound installations, films, performance art and more — exist only for their chosen subject, whom they’ve come to know very well. Then it all vanishes. The idea is a beautiful inefficiency: a tiny but infinitely more affected audience.
“The goal is to find the deepest possible effect of art and the full breadth of emotional experience in the world,” said Abraham Burickson, the kindly and ruminative co-founder and director of Odyssey Works. “We get to know them so well, we don’t have to use guesswork to find how to make that happen. We’re ‘Amazon recommends,’ for art.”
The beneficiary of all this activity that weekend was Laura Espino, 26, a volunteer coordinator originally from Argentina. Having heard about the group from a friend, she’d filled out a monstrously elaborate application to be its next audience. She was chosen from roughly 100 applicants, asked to leave a certain weekend open and to do no further research. Already it had begun to research her.
PHOTO: Performance recipient Laura Espino being “abducted” by Miriam Bird Greenberg and Abraham Burickson. New York Times photo by Peter DaSilva.