The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) highlights the opening of its exhibitions with a seriously memorable performance. For instance, Ryan Trecartin's "Any Ever" featured an eyeful with artists Colin Self and Raul De Nieves, one donning a crafty fat man suit, both making dramatic gestures to "experimental" music, and lots of yellow balloons flying off the deck behind the Standard Miami Beach.
Last night, then, was no real exception to this memorable-performance rule. Though you kind of had to be in the know to have had the heads-up on it, the Rita Ackermann opening featured a noisy and bumping performance by the artist's friends Gang Gang Dance. They are an act that has no boundaries. Well, no boundaries musically since the mid-'90s, incorporating the genres of every CD you've had since high school into one flowing set of sound.
At first, it was like all tribal noise. Vocalist and percussionist Lizzi Bougatsos in a baseball cap, jersey, and long flowing white pants walked through the back area of MOCA with three symbols tied with a rope. Swinging it about and dragging it on the ground, she made a very loud Pied Piper.
We followed her into a backroom, where Brian Degraw was playing on the keyboard and mixing all different sounds. Bougatsos continued to flail the symbols around, and everyone crowded in, wide-eyed.
Then she made her way to the front of the room to bang on drums and sing hauntingly. There were samples of a baby crying, the bass dropped, there was even some classical keyboard action, R&B and spoken-word elements appeared, and even a hip-hop interlude by a certain somebody in a bra. The performers were clearly loving the vibe in there.
Behind them, they screened visuals that were mostly organic, amusing, and relevant to the sounds. The crowd got really into it after the beats increased and the noise aspect subsided.
There were both some seriously awkward art kid dancing and some real Miami moves. After Bougatsos left the room, Degraw continued creating his own dance party, even playing his own version of Sade's "Cherish the Day." Bodies continued to move freely as the party trailed off -- memorable and refreshingly original, to say the least.
So, you probably missed the opening, but Ackermann's paintings are a must-see, and they'll be up through May 6 at MOCA (770 NE 125 St., Miami).
Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.