Saturday, May 17, 2014

Art you are meant to sleep through

Not so for a small but ambitious new show that opened last week in Times Square, “Dream of the Red Chamber: A Performance for a Sleeping Audience.” As its title suggests, it is meant to be absorbed by a slumbering crowd: Attendees doff their shoes and doze off in beds underneath the Brill Building. Around them, cast members in elaborate costumes act out scenes and gesture repetitively as their images are projected onto screens surrounding the space. The lights are dim; the music, constant and droning. The idea is for the spectacle to permeate the visitor’s subconscious.

Nearly 1,000 people attended in the first week, organizers said, half of them on opening weekend, when one show ran overnight, lasting 13 hours. The second and final overnight performance, on Saturday, runs from 5 p.m. till 6 the next morning. ...

Last weekend, the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea held its fourth “Dream-Over,” in which each visitor is invited to sleep under an artwork that a curator has chosen for him or her, and then roused in the morning for a round of dream interpretation. (With tickets priced at $108, the event sold out.) And the British musician Steven Stapleton has been giving 12-hour “Sleep Concerts” in Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Germany at which fans doze through ambient sounds and videos in what is sometimes billed as an “avant-D.J. somniloquy.”

“Sleepovers have become quite hot in recent years,” said RoseLee Goldberg, the founder of Performa, the New York performance art biennial, which offered an all-night symphonic installation in 2013.