As museums like the MoMa’s PS1 and D.C.’s Hirshhorn have shown, art museums don’t have to be stodgy and tomb-silent. They can also be fun. And so PS1 brought us Warm Up, which this summer brought such trendy DJs as Jamie xx and Shlomo as well as musicians from other genres, represented by rap’s current it boy Danny Brown and Thom Yorke’s experimental supergroup Atoms for Peace. The Hirshhorn represents D.C. in its own right with its After Hours series, begun in 2007 and occuring three times a year. In May of this year, the Hirshhorn out-cooled itself with the May 8 event at which it projected “Doug Aitken: Song 1” with the sound turned off, and with musicians such as No Age and Geologist from Animal Collective providing the soundtrack.
On Friday, the Hirshhorn will present a video/performance art piece put on by Peter Glantz, whose list of accomplishments spans from directing a music video for Andrew W.K. to producing a number of documentaries for labor unions.
His work is best described as whimsical. It’s trippy, but in a innocent and playful way. It pushes the boundaries of what is entertainment and what is art.
These days, Glantz has mostly been working on some cartoons for the soon to be reborn MTV animation show “Liquid Television,” and his interview show “We Can Do It!” hosted by band Lavender Diamond vocalist Becky Stark and featuring guests like actor John C. Riley and OK Go lead singer Damien Kulash. Glantz also directed a music video for alt-country band Wilco. All of these recent projects will be a part of his brand-new live show “The World” at After Hours on Friday, which will be a combination performance and video piece as he tells stories and show videos that change depending on the nuances of the audience.
What’s your show on Friday going to be like?
I’ve been making some short cartoons that are going to be a part of MTV’s “Liquid Television.” They’re revamping “Liquid Television,” this show in the ‘90s, and so some of the things I’ll be showing are things that haven’t been seen anywhere. Some of them have only recently been released. What I do is I interweave these different projects that I’m working on and then the live portion is a way to sort of tell a story that connects the different videos and the idea between them into one story.
Is there an element of chance in your shows?
That’s what’s most exciting for me, it’s why I ultimately do live performance. During the show, depending on how people are responding and just really what the feeling is in the room, or things I overhear before the show, or even how the audience responds to different things that happen in the show….I’ll curve the story in different directions and I will show different pieces to try and reflect what I feel is happening right then.
I’m imagining your show to be a bit like DJ-ing, where the DJ changes the music based on the crowd.
It’s a little more narrative than a DJ. It’s more like a conversation where you’ve got a lot of ideas and you’re trying to get a point across and as you hear how people respond to you, you might share a different idea or a different part of your story to get the point across. But it’s all connected as a tale. I’m a little bit DJing what’s happening, but it’s very much within the world
of a story.
Why are stories so important to you?
We all have stories in our minds, the stories we tell each other, that sort of give us an idea of what the world is. That’s very much the product of our imaginations, and what we want the world to be. And then there’s what we all relate to is the real world, where we connect when we’re having to buy, having to eat, and having to drink water, and the things that are required to live that are real. And then I think that there’s often stories that we have to tell each other to try and make sense of our existence.
Your show is going to happen in the middle area with the Ai Weiwei sculptures, right?
I’m really thrilled that the Ai Weiwei zodiac heads are there. I feel like his art, as I see it, has a lot of fantastical elements to it. Clearly, he’s been impacted by very real forces in his country.
How did this event get started? Did the Hirshhorn reach out to you, or…
Kevin Hull, who works there, was familiar with my work and it was good timing because I’ve been wanting to premiere this new show. I had just started to develop it the moment that he called, and then this Friday was perfect timing for me to do it. I feel like the Hirshhorn is the perfect place.
Some of the people who performed at the After Hours in the past, like Hooliganship, and Extreme Animals, and Dan Deacon are all people who are in my community of performers. And so I think he probably became familiar with me through them.
What was it like working with Andrew W.K.?
Andrew is incredibly creative and smart, and it was fun the whole time. I’ve done a few projects with him. We did this traveling variety show that he hosted with his full band, and I think people don’t realize what a musical talent he is because his most popular music is these big party songs. But when we were doing this show, there were a few covers involved and we were deciding which covers, and no matter what song we threw out, he could just listen for a second and pick it up and be able to play it on the keyboard, and sing it, and he’s always full of ideas and capable of. He’s really living in the moment, and his whole philosophy of partying is something that’s really sort of echoes out to everyone around him, so it’s been a real blessing to work with him.
Are you nervous for the show on Friday? Is there anything that could go terribly terribly wrong?
I’ve done a lot of performances, but I’m trying some new things on this. And so I feel like I have fear, but the purpose of this show is to take that fear and to reclaim it and to start feeling it as love. Because we all feel fear, whether we do something new or we are vulnerable, but I think that we are empowered when we can change that feeling inside us that we’re capable of turning it into love.