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Shock, awe, and hot hogs where the sun doesn’t shine

Inaugural Receiver Fest gets the conversation started

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A day of edgy conceptual art started out at a familiar place and wound its way into a twisted realm worlds away from Charleston's typical art scene.

Redux is possibly the most cutting edge art venue in town, where we've seen plenty of innovative artists show their work or give talks. David Bowen's kinetic installation was my first taste of Receiver Fest. Plant stalks swayed in the virtual wind from a specific Minnesota field, with a lot of help from technology, sensors, and wire. This is time-based media at its best. A couple of Redux volunteers helped me navigate the town to see all the good stuff going on within walking distance. They suggested the chalk drawing installation outside the Children’s Museum, an installation in the hall just outside the Halsey, and some videos at the Communications Museum. I was advised to come back at 7 p.m. for a performance and told not to bring kids and to be aware that there was sexual content.

It was a perfectly gorgeous afternoon with a bright blue sky and the art I saw filled my head with ideas and inspiration. Tara Parsons drew delicate and temporary chalk stencils of endangered birds in lines and configurations, even going up the side of the building from the concrete walkway. The videos were mercifully short and a couple had the small audience laughing out loud. “Just The Way You Are” had a split screen with a pianist on the left playing the famous Billy Joel melody. On the right was a montage of girls by themselves in their musty-looking bedrooms showing off their splits — the teenage dream of cheerleading reaching universal status.

Right on schedule, I headed to Redux for the performance, which started with an innocuous and silent video riffing on John Cage’s famous piece “273 Seconds.” The second piece was titled “Land of Infinity,” which fit Receiver Fest’s theme of time-based art quite well. The stage was covered with a heap of tarps and airless balloons. Ian Mozdzen walked on stage wearing a Bozo wig and a raincoat, and like a creepy carnie, started the audience on a wild ride.

To say that there were adult themes and nudity would be a gross understatement. He performed a sex act with handcuffs, a hot dog, and mustard that I will never be able to erase from my consciousness. Besides that, there was a lot of ranting about frustration and anger and fame … and mustard. It was profane and profound, raw and inspired. For an hour and a half, Mozdzen held the audience captive and no one dared to leave, unlike many a Spoleto performance that offends the blue-haired conservative ladies. By the end, six bottles of mustard and two cans of vanilla air freshener had been sprayed all over the stage and the air was thick with that jarring scent. It had been a communal experience like no other.

After the show, people were lighting up just outside the door, smoking like fiends, trying to digest what we had seen. Processed meat and mustard will never look the same. If you decide to do an internet search, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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