April 18, 2019

You Are Next to Me at Public Pool @ Hyperallergic

HAMTRAMCK, Michigan — Artists Mark McCloughan and Leslie Rogers set the scene for their scripted performance at Public Pool art space, You Are Next to Me, much in the spirit of a campfire tale, for an audience assembled in sets of seats facing each other with a performance corridor down the middle. The handful of live performances are just one aspect of a gallery installation that re-stages, retells, and reimagines a shared encounter between McCloughan and Rogers, and two residents of an unnamed town in the Wisconsin Dells, which the pair encountered on their way to ACRE residency last summer.

Over the course of their 2018 residency, McCloughan and Rogers found themselves rehashing the experience, which plays out as a psychological drama between two ambiguous couples — Rogers and McCloughan, who both consciously cultivate non-normative approaches to the gender binary, and “Marty” and “Lisa” (whose names were changed in character form to protect the privacy of their real-life analogues). Marty and Lisa seem to have carved out their own pocket of alternative sexuality and gender warfare within the constraints of rural Wisconsin. The result is a show and performance that deal with heady themes of identity, sexual agency, gender, power, perspective, and freedom — all expressed through the comical tag-team and multimedia efforts of McCloughan and Rogers, whose performance history together lends them an air of a couple, able to pick up unspoken cues and tell the story of each other as easily as themselves.

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