Adrienne Truscott introduced herself at a sold-out performance at the Abrons Arts Center last night with a clarification. “I’m not really a comedian,” she said. “I’m more of a feminist performance artist—and we don’t find anything fucking funny.”
Truscott is both of those things, and much more. A trained dancer, she is best known for her reclamation of rape jokes in performances that alternate between stand-up comedy, live memoir, song-and-dance, and relational aesthetics.
For her performance on Tuesday, the cryptically titled This, Truscott opened with a stand-up set laced with jokes about man-hating (“feminists don’t hate all men—some of my best friends are men I hate”) and abortion (“abortion and comedy have more in common than you’d think. With both, timing is everything“). Later, the humor gave way to earnest personal accounts of violence and misogyny, including a particularly moving memory about how she once posed as a teenager for a photographer whose predatory nature she only recognized years later.
Toward the end of the evening, Truscott stripped down nude and mused about what it might mean—politically and aesthetically—to put a naked female body on stage in 2018. She wondered whether focusing on her body might return her to some “interior truth.”
Then, she reached down and started pulling a long scroll from her vagina. She looked at it with surprise—what did this document say?
“Oh no. Oh my fucking god. It’s the Benghazi transcripts!”
The scroll appeared endless. What would this excruciatingly long testimony reveal about Hillary Clinton’s culpability in Benghazi? Spoiler alert: nothing.
Truscott based the scene on Carolee Schneemann‘s legendary 1975 performance Interior Scroll, though when Schneemann unrolled her scroll, the text described a male “post-structuralist filmmaker” who had advised her to stop making such personal art.
Truscott referenced Schneemann throughout the show. She said that she’d recently read an interview with the artist in which Schneemann said that young people ought to rethink the urge to become artists given our politically perilous times.
Schneemann “recommended activism instead of art,” Truscott said, “and she’s probably right about that.”
After all, “no one needed me to do that,” she said pointing to her vagina. “How’s that going to increase voter turnout?”
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