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Jesse Griffin: Sex with Horses - review

Apr 24, 2016 Theatre

Kiwi comedian Jesse Griffin is dressed as a barefoot Jesus in a tangled blonde wig and hospital gown. He’s lit only by a spotlight, and enters the dark cavern of the Montecristo basement from the toilets. The audience is standing, clutching beer, in a space that’s part-nightclub, part-impromptu art gallery — paintings on the wall, an upturned bucket and empty beer boxes on plinths.

After intoning what sounds like a sacred song, Jesus/Griffin reveals that this entrance was part of an eight-hour performance piece at the 2008 Venice Biennale, its title generating one of the set’s biggest laughs.

Griffin changes out of his bottom-revealing gown into an adult nappy, and eventually into a shirt and jeans, and explains that the artworks strewn around the room mark different points in his career. This is comedy as art installation – or vice versa – with the audience following the straight-faced artist from plinth to painting, discovering balloon sculptures and alleged flag contest submissions along the way.

We’re treated to a performance of an ‘unimprovised drum piece’ (fresh from a tour of NZ libraries) and presented with several wall-projected videos from The Artist’s How Busy Are You? series, including an unfortunate experiment with a Dyson Air Blade.

There is some funny material here, and much of Griffin’s tone and language are perfect in skewering artspeak. But the art world offers fairly low-hanging fruit, and he could have gone much further in satirising its pomposity and vacuity. Despite the highlights, the best of which lies beneath the upturned bucket, there are too many lulls for a sixty-minute piece, and the show isn’t quite cohesive, weird, or wild enough.

Jesse Griffin – Sex With Horses, April 23-May 1, Montecristo Downstairs. Book tickets.


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