Sunday, August 9, 2009

Los Grumildos (HERE Arts Center)

By Kitty

BOTTOM LINE: Debachery, decadence and disco balls.

This is my Amsterdam fantasy. Inside the basement space of the HERE Arts Center, Peruvian artist Ety Fefer builds a kooky cabaret whose guests include demented dollhouse denizens, rodent hybrid rock stars, and insects with spiky shells to match their gold spiked heels. These creatures drink, sing, smoke and make love in a world resembling that of a European cabaret club circa 1940 complete with red lighting, simulated cigarette smoke and a soft, swing jazz soundtrack.

Los Grumildos, though described as "kinetic theatre", is more a play in the philosophical sense. Human beings are replaced by puppets. Movement is manipulated by strings. Ideas are conveyed and emotions shared in the assembling of the atmosphere rather than in spoken word.

Yet, it seems a disservice to classify Los Grumildos as simply an art installation. Strangely, there is a sense of "different every night." Each creature possesses its own inner life and even though they are retarded by their plasticine parts, they are free in their personal expression and seem to bring a different energy with each look.

(Los Grumildos' bizarre magic has finished its short run at HERE Arts Center in New York. However, Ety Fefer continues to tour her puppets throughout the United States and Europe. To learn of future installations, visit

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