November 7th, 2011 · Tida Tippapart

Mai-Thu Perret Channels Krazy Kat

A black silhouette approaches the audience. As the lights go up, the silhouette becomes two figures: a cat and mouse implicated in a playful fight sequence. On November 4th, 2011, Swiss-born visual artist Mai-Thu Perret presented Love Letters in Ancient Brick, her first dance performance piece, inspired by American comic- strip artist George Herriman’s seminal work Krazy Kat, published from 1913 to 1944. Love Letters, choreographed by Perret and Laurence Yadi, tells the tale of a love triangle between a naive cat, a playful mouse and a protective police dog.

George Herriman, Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse at the Circus. 1916.

The dance unfolds with a rhythmically sung narration by Tamar Barnett-Herrin and composed by Vincent de Roguin, navigating the audience through the twists and turns of the love story, in which Perret negates a linear plot line. The evolving black and white backdrops conceived by Perret mimicked the changing experimental landscapes that were a key feature of Herriman's original comic strip. Perret constructs a surrealist scenario of fight scenes in slow motion, lounging cats, and a giant stork, which draws from the psychoanalytical themes evoked in Herriman’s comics. The simplicity of the costumes, designed by Ligia Dias, allows the audience to be transfixed by the fluidity of the dance and the many layers in which the love triangle could be interpreted. 

Perret is widely known for her multi-disciplinary practice in painting, sculpture, video and installation whereby the artist creates utopian worlds of possibility. She studied at Cambridge University and the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program, as well as participating in numerous exhibitions at the Kitchen in New York, Centre d'Art Contemporain in Geneva and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Love letters in Ancient Brick maps an evocative trajectory for the artist to explore the dimensions of visual arts and performance, adding a new layer of texture to her expansive art practice

George Herriman, Krazy Kat. May 24, 1936.

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