‘Hotel Theory’ Performance Series Puts Theory Into Practice

Since REDCAT is affiliated with CalArts, it’s no surprise that their programming often borders educational. For those who enjoy a side of schooling with their art consumption, the Gallery at REDCAT offers “Hotel Theory,” a three-month exhibition, “which explores the possibilities of theory as an art form.”

This exploration will be led by an eccentric assemblage of tour guides – more than 20 performers and purveyors will present their works throughout the series, with mediums that run the gamut from lecturing to puppetry.

If “Hotel Theory” sounds both daunting and ambitious, then it is an appropriate descendent of its namesake. “Hotel Theory,” the book, was a 2007 project by cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum. “Hotel Theory” was more precisely, two books – one a non-fiction dissection of hotel culture, the other a pulp fiction novel – that appear side-by-side. This expression of form consciousness and interrogation of facts and fictions will be on full display in the REDCAT series.

On November 18, performance artist Claude Wampler presents “Lecture Without Content But With Choreography.” It’s a sparse, individual interrogation of the physical relationship between a performer and their audience, first executed by the artist in Taipei.

Sparse and individual will not be in order for Charles Gaines’ contribution, “Manifestos 2.” Gaines’ performance moves the series into the REDCAT Theater where a nine-piece orchestra will execute “devised musical translations” of political speeches, including the final public one made by Malcolm X. “Manifestos 2” is the second iteration of a concept Gaines debuted at the MoMA last year. It takes place on Wednesday, December 9 and is a ticketed event.

The other “Hotel Theory” events are free and open to the public. The program is an exciting slate of new works, of thoughtful experiments and brain-picking lectures that serves as a kind of visceral education in art theory.

The series allows for brief, welcoming encounters into these high-minded conceptual rooms. It’s an opportunity to see some of the boldest experimental minds in the art world discussing their work in an immersive way. And it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than art school.

Hotel Theory has vacancies on various dates from Oct. 3 to Dec. 20 at the Gallery at REDCAT.