Midnight babylon

I've updated everything, but here's an old review of the old Midnight Babylon: "In 'Midnight Babylon" the audience looked on as the artist - awakened by a nightmare - spent a sleepless night recalling nightmares and ruminating on the horrors and humor of war, life and television. The work was performed on the first evening of a three-day teach-in on U.S. policy in Central America. Billy Curmano shared the bill with singer/songwriter Country Joe McDonald. Because of the context the audience was not a typical one for a performance piece. However, the attentiveness, laughter and several interruptions of the performance by enthusiastic applause were proof that Curmano's writing and energetic performance were reaching everybody. A vertical bed, a stool and a projection screen provided a stark setting that focused attention on Curmano, while reminding us that we were eavesdropping on an insomniacs monolog. Awakened by a nightmare and then frightened by a clothe-tree, Curmano recalled a nightmare containing both ridiculous and frightening symbolic images of war. The lights faded and then returned to show Curmano sitting on a stool staring at his left wrist, his left hand bent back. A razor blade in his right hand remained poised in the air - almost forgotten - as he spoke of the pleasure of watching his pulse beat, feeling the blood flow through his body. Then he agonized over the frustrations of life and society, sometimes wanting to blow the whole thing up. But, like blood circulating, his soliloquy came full circle when he concluded, 'It don't mean nothing. It don't mean nothing at all.' He described a television awards show, 'The Wammy Awards', for the top ten current wars. The description was interrupted for a word from the sponsor, Art Works USA, Curmano's studio in Rushford, Minnesota. Slides, music and recorded narration advertised three of his wearable sculptures: a pair of boots on small rockets, a vest adorned with sticks of 'dynamite' wired together and a strap-on pair of legs in the full-lotus posture. Returning to the awards show Curmano became the master of ceremonies, joyfully announcing the death-count and a brief history of the top ten current wars. Religious fanatacism - of both the right and left - were credited for the honors. The Iran-Iraq War, with a half-million dead, was the winner. Curmano became the grateful recipient of the prize; his thanks included appreciation to the Reagan Administration for helping both sides accomplish the slaughter. Suddenly Curmano realized the night was over. We were delivered from one surreal world to another: 'I gotta go. I gotta get to work. I'm almost late." - Reggie McCleod, "High Performance", Astro Artz, Los Angeles, Issue 38, 1987.

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