We'll admit it: Performance art tends to rub us the wrong way. If somebody has something to say to us, we'd just as soon forgo charades and cut to the chase. But for his one-night show called It's OK
, David Ford guided people through a draining maze of sensory experiences. It started in the entryway, where a guy sat chopping onions for the duration of the show, forcing visitors to view everything -- including one another -- through tears. People made offerings to Saint Simon, the Patron Saint of bad habits. Overhead, a calm, silent Virgin Mary on giant stilts looked upon the crowd gathered below her. Saints and sinners alike entered cramped booths where they could privately view "obscene photos," which turned out to be shots of fur coats and oil tanks. Visitors escaped the hot, tiny booths only when the glitter-dusted seductress outside said it was time, generally opening the door just a few seconds later than they hoped she would. One sculpture included some taxidermy that, unlike most professionally stuffed animal carcasses, was posed to appear neither comfortable nor alive. Meanwhile, a jazz band played as sweaty onlookers wept and danced, taking one swig at a time from the bottle of whiskey being passed around. It was one part confessional, one part Coney Island and one part red-light district. You came out feeling like it really was
OK, though you hadn't realized anything was wrong before showing up in the first place.