Last Thursday Lee Nagrin, the pioneer of performance art, passed away at the age of 78. But Basil Twist had already been collaborating with her for the past nine years on a piece that finally premiered this week at her Silver Whale Gallery and Studio on Bleecker. I attended on Wednesday with a small group (the entire audience is limited to 18) to experience Twist’s peculiar brand of puppetry (he also performs live in the piece). We were led through nine scenes that included a talking totem pole, a dancing Einstein (with mushroom cloud), a gallery scene (with wine and cheese), puppets of Nagrin swinging and screeching and speaking about her life and experiences in dreamspeak.
The most impressive moment was the final scene when an old crone–withered hands, brocade tunic and frightful white hair–sat with a video projection of Lee Nagrin’s face. It was if Twist had resurrected the artist for her to tell us her life stories once again–a chilling memorial. We then ended up back on Bleecker where the performers and puppeteers took their bows, all of us clapping and a final public performance for the community who has lost a treasured artist.