The Return of Idiot Wind

by Brendan Kiley

Editors, directors, and tastemakers can seem cruel to aspiring creative types, but imagine a world without them. You'd open a book or go to a show without the smallest promise of quality: Self-indulgent jerks would be warbling on about how they can't get dates, bore-assing everyone to tears. It would be--horror of horrors--a democratic art world.

Which is exactly what Matthew Richter, executive director of Consolidated Works, has in mind with Idiot Wind 2.0, Seattle's only nonjuried performance cabaret. Performers will just show up and have seven minutes to impress the audience. Introducing the spirit of open mic to the heavily curated environment at ConWorks will be--well, does anybody know?

"No--I have no fucking clue," Richter says. That's the idea. "12 Minutes Max and Spin the Bottle present nice snapshots of what Nick Garrison or Sarah Rudinoff are working on. Idiot Wind gives a snapshot of what the city is working on. Imagine the world of Seattle performance art as a flowing sewer. Idiot Wind will be a manhole where you can sit and watch the sewer go by."

The series is a resurrection of the first Idiot Wind, a product of Richter's long-defunct performance space Rm 608. Some artists got their Seattle start there--instrument architect Ela Lamblin, for example, and Aviva Jane Carlin, whose solo show Jodie's Body went from Idiot Wind to a Rm 608 commission to off-Broadway success.

Then there were the brilliant, irreproducible freak shows. Richter tells a story about one woman nobody had heard of who showed up with a pillowcase full of rocks. She made sure each audience member had a fist-sized stone and cued the lights to go completely black. Then nothing happened.

"I realized she was going to sit there for the full seven minutes," Richter said. "And we all had rocks."

One tumbled lightly onto the pitch-black stage. Then another. Then one slammed onstage. Then several. It was one of art's terribly effective moments, where viewers were privately and personally confronted by something so difficult and scary, they couldn't help but leave the room changed.

And that's why we need to carve out places where editors, directors, and tastemakers have no influence: There are some ideas that are too dangerous, too weird, and too great to squeak by even the most perceptive cultural curators.

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