The Average Mysterious and the Shirt off Its Back - A Performance

Hauser & Wirth
Los Angeles, CA

December 7, 2016 

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The Average Mysterious and the Shirt Off Its Back weaves together a Surrealist play and film with news reports and music of the 1920s. The performance is part of Lutker's ongoing series investigating the history of the fistfights of the Surrealists.

Originally commissioned by Pérez Art Museum Miami, the play premiered there in 2015 and was also performed at the Hirshhorn Museum. This is the Los Angeles premiere, starring Jenny Greer and Bilal Mir, who originated the roles in Miami and DC, with Nour Mobarak, and Simone Baron on piano.

The performance presents scenes from Louis Aragon’s play, Au Pied du Mur: a dramatic set of exchanges between a man and a woman, and a salesman and an arc-light. The scenes are intercut by news reports and two other works: La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman), a 1928 film directed by Germaine Dulac written by Antonin Artaud; and 7 Brief Pieces (1920) by Arthur Honegger, a composer closely associated with DADA and Surrealist theater and film.

Total running time, 45 minutes.

About the fistfight of May 29, 1925

On the afternoon of the 29th of May 1925, Monsieur Robert Aron was scheduled to present a lecture titled “Le Français moyen et la littérature” (the average Frenchman and literature), at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, located at 21 rue du Vieux-Colombier in Paris. The lecture was to be followed by scenes from Au Pied du Mur, (Backs to the Wall), a play written by Louis Aragon in 1923, directed by and starring Antonin Artaud opposite actress Génica Athanasiou.

Soon after Aron commenced his lecture, Surrealists, who were scattered throughout the audience, began yelling over him. At first, Aron attempted to continue, but violence erupted between provoked audience members and Surrealist instigators. The police were called in. The fistfight was soon dissolved, and the program continued, with the scenes from Aragon’s play.

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