Paintings by James Pollard

“The Enigmatic Moment: Episode Two”

About “The Enigmatic Moment: Episode Two” (from the artist):

This body of work is an extension of my B.F.A. exhibition in 2010, which reveals the intimate relationship between the artist and the subject matter.  The figures represent the muse. Despite their beauty, do not engage the viewer with a windfall of emotion.  They represent ordinary people that are in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control.  These paintings are a secret view of the art world of which I am a mere receiver of images and ideas.  The ideas come in a flash while the execution on a formalistic level requires many coats of primer and layers of acrylic paints, diluted with medium.  I also sand out the lumps with rough grit sandpaper.

Although the viewer may feel somewhat left in limbo, but can at least eavesdrop on an important conversation between the creator and the creation.  I also rely on Dadaism, and Surrealism, quite heavily to evoke the mood of the viewer with the dank interior scenes.  The viewer is left to determine the hidden narrative, and many will see varying interpretations of the mysterious intent.

– James H. Pollard

James H. Pollard received a B.F.A in Pictorial Arts from San Jose State School of Art and Design, fall 2010. His work has been exhibited throughout San Jose, California.

Email jamespollard03@yahoo.com for more info.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine – March 2012: Awaken

Consequences and second chances come to mind when a near-death experience truly awakens the spirit of a man in the third and final installment of Lost Souls, by J’Rie Elliot.

The work of British Photographer Eleanor Leonne Bennett is radiant. The consistent sheen and bold contrasts in her work are sure to activate your senses.

On the contrary, lack of stimuli and wasted time is expressed in Sam Burks’ poem, At the Park.

Additional poetry this month comes from returning-contributors Tatjana Debeljacki and Felino A. Soriano.

Check the out the pleasing misfortune of “Boy Wonder” in the humorous and perverse writing of John Clay Bradley.

In reviews…

Books:

Film and Performance:

  • Bruce Roberts on I Want To Get Married, written and directed by William Clift
  • Christopher Bernard on The Past is a Grotesque Animal, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA
  • Martin Rushmere on A Case of Libel, presented by Novato Theatre Company in Novato, CA

Click here for Leena Prasad’s monthly column: Whose Brain Is It? Presented within the flow of the lives of fictional characters, this is a monthly column with a journalist’s perspective on brain research.

Also, check out Holly Sisson’s article on Starhawk’s permaculture design course, “Earth Activist Training.”

Lastly, please make note of the NEW EMAIL ADDRESS for submissions, donations, or general inquires to the magazine: synchchaos@gmail.com.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy this month’s issue!

“Like” us on Facebook and use our page as an opportunity to share your ideas, exhibits, book-signing events, and more!

“Lost Souls” Pt. 3, by J’Rie Elliott

Lost Souls

Pt. 3 (Final)

by J’Rie Elliott

 

The creature stepped back away from him and leaned against the wall. The room around them changed shape; it was no longer his house. Hannah walked out of the bath room with a towel in her hand drying her hair and a towel around her body hiding her form; she was still shiny from the water on her skin– Joseph could smell her cherry perfume. She looked away down the hallway and towards the door; though no sound was heard Joseph could tell she heard the doorbell ring. She walked to the door clad in just her towel; she checked the peep hole and pulled open the door; there stood a man whom Joseph had never seen before.

“That’s my wife!” Joseph yelled. Only to notice there was no wedding ring on her left hand, no tan line either. The year on the calendar showed that it was five years after he had left. The man walked in closing the door and turning the lock with one hand while pulling her close with the other. Their lips found each other lighting her face with desire. Desire that she had once reserved for Joseph alone, but now she had for this other man—all while Joseph had to watch. “I can’t watch this!”  He turned his back from them only to have the room shift and bring them back into view; he was going to have to watch he had no choice. The stranger slipped the towel off of her body and twirled her in her nakedness around like a ballerina in front of him; admiring every curve, every inch even the small cherry shaped birth mark on her bottom; the one Joseph use to pat ‘for luck’. The stranger scooped her up and carried her to the bed room. “I will not watch another man make love to my wife!” He screamed into the air, “I will not follow them!”  He had no option; he did not have to follow them because the room around him changed, he now stood in the bed room where the stranger was touching Hannah in a way Joseph had once touched her, a way that no other man had touched her before Joseph. “This isn’t right!” Tears were rolling down his cheeks.  He did not notice that the creature had vanished from the room.

Joseph fell to the floor cupping his face with his hands sobbing—he began to pray, “Dear God I am so sorry for what I’ve put her through.  I never knew I was hurting her so badly; I never paid attention to anyone else.  Dear God forgive me.”  His words fell on a silent room only the ragged sounds of his breath between words to punctuate his prayer.  He could feel time passing, and yet time was standing still; how could he have let this happen?  Why had he been so stupid not to see what he had in front of him?  Why had he squandered every opportunity to correct his mistakes?

Then a voice came from behind him, “Those are some good questions.” Joseph spun around as though he had been bitten.

“Who?  How?” The words eluded him. Standing in the room with him was a very short lady who appeared to be in her late sixties–she reminded him of his great Aunt Martha who passed away when he was nine.

“It is not our place to question–your prayer did not fall upon deaf ears; neither the one you said nor the one your heat spoke.”  This new visitor was comforting and radiated warmth from her body. “I’ve been informed that you have shown some redeeming qualities; qualities that were hidden within you this whole time. Perhaps when we are faced with the hard truth it is easier to see reality.”

“I don’t understand?” Joseph meekly uttered.

“Joseph, some people come here and they never waffle, they never ask for forgiveness even though they are damned. Many come and are as cold as they were everyday in their existence. What was seen within you was a spark; a spark of humanity—with that spark is the possibility to learn from your mistakes; to right the wrongs in your life; this chance will cost you dearly, but you will understand that later. However, Joseph if this time you follow the path that brought you here—there will not be a third chance.” Her voice was as stern as the grave when those words passed her lips. “Do you understand now?”

“I think I do.  What is going to happen to me now?”

“Now, my dear nephew, you wake up.”

“Clear!” the doctor yelled the defibrillator struck his chest; Joseph’s body jumped with electricity–beep, beep, beep. “He’s back” Joseph’s eye lids begin to flutter, he could perceive light but nothing else. “Welcome back son,” the doctor said “We lost you for a minute there; you had us all worried.” Joseph tried to speak, “Don’t try to speak we had to put a tube in your throat to help you breath, the nurse just removed it—you will be sore for a bit.  You are at Cedar Seine Hospital; you were in a car accident.  Do you remember?”  Joseph remembered everything, but nothing about a car accident. “You just lay back, we’ll get you fixed up and then you can see your wife.”

“Wife!” He spoke louder than he intended and he could feel razor blades cutting his throat.

“Yes, she is here, she got here about 30 minutes after the ambulance brought you in. We’re going to give you something to sleep; we still have some work to do; just relax you’re going to be fine.  Nurse, please…” The doctor motioned to the nurses to his left and she injected something into his IV—the world went dark.

When he awoke two days later, Hannah was sitting by the side of his bed; her eyes red from crying. She looked so scared, but so young as though time had stopped in her face, “Hi babe.” She smiled at him and tried to hug him as best she could without bothering all of the tubes and wires. “I am so sorry babe; for everything.” Joseph said.

“SSSHHH, don’t try to talk; we’ll talk when you are stronger. I am just so glad you’re still alive.” Joseph took her hand in his and squeezed it as tightly as he could.

“Babe, I think for the first time I am alive.” Hannah stood to get a tissue to wipe the tears from her eyes and he saw she was pregnant; she grabbed her side.

“Oh, feels like she is going to be born playing soccer.” Hannah smiled looking at her husband.  Joseph turned and caught a glimpse of himself in the steel door, he was young again, and Hannah was still pregnant with Janet. He could not understand how this happened—then her heard Aunt Martha’s voice in his mind “…with that spark came the possibility to learn from your mistakes; to right the wrongs in your life…” He was being let to start over, to do it right from the beginning. “Where is Will?” he asked Hannah.

“He’s here; a nurse took him to the cafeteria to get some Jell-O.” Joseph tried to move in the bed, but he could not move his feet, again he heard Aunt Martha’s voice “…this chance will cost you dearly, but you will understand that later…”  Hannah looked at the floor and tears rolled down her cheeks, “Tell me babe, what’s wrong?”

Hannah took a deep breath, “When the car hit the bridge you got pinned beneath the debris… Joe it crushed your back—there was nothing they could do, your spinal cord was destroyed from your hips down.  You can move your arms and when the swelling goes down you will be able to turn at your waist—but sweetheart you will never walk again.” She was holding back a flood of tears as she tried to stay calm.

“I’ll never walk again. That’s the price I pay.” Hannah looked at him strangely—how calm he was, “Did I hurt anyone else?”

“No, it was only your car…you were drunk. Do you remember?”

“No, but I’m not drunk anymore. My legs are a small price to pay to get my family back.” This time Hannah could not hold the tears; she laid her head on his stomach sobbing.

“Daddy!” William came running in the room holding two cups of green Jell-O, “The nurse let me get two! You okay Daddy?”

“Yeah boy, for the first time in a long time, I’m really okay.”

The End

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Click here to read Part 1 of Lost Souls.

Click here to read Part 2 of Lost Souls.

J’Rie Elliott is a poetess and ongoing contributor to Synchronized Chaos. To contact her, send an email to dixiepoet@gmail.com.

Poetry by Sam Burks

At The Park

The days trickled slowly by
And we had nothing
In the world to do
Except count them down
No matter how fragmented
And distorted they became

We were idle
And indifferent
To the slow shutter of chaos
Ebbing away at a snail-pace
All the logic
That took years to procure
So many years
Passing at a rate
That should have killed the joy
But didn’t
Now we find ourselves
Still alive, but without a motive
Just a few little ants on the boulevard
So small and powerless
And still fiercely hunting the scent

The days would pass
Over our heads
Up in the trees
Giving them before us
The last glimpse of light
As if their days were numbered
Like ours
The benches of eternity were waiting
For the bottom eclipse
Of our glass bottles
We would sip our beers and wonder
What will happen
Tomorrow?

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You may reach Sam Burks at srburks@gmail.com.

Poetry by Tatjana Debeljacki

JAPANESE DESIGNER

Dependence of fantasy,

genre of pantomime

sinistral origin

natal affair.

Vanity of vomiting

sick whimsy

Embroidered on three corners,

at the edges of balance

leftovers of perception.

Sighs of lovers

horrible ejaculations,

relaxation irresistible,

anomaly risk of genetic abnormalities,

euphoric sensation.

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JAPANESE MOUNTAINEER

Filled up with lust

to quench my thirst,

shocked through the rays

of the tired sun.

Revived by the breath.

Ignited, you wake me up,

you kindle during my sleep

the last signs

of recognition.

Every ground letter

You bring back written

In all languages

In the dark lair.

Smudge again

The colors across the dead

whiteness of the night, smash the dawn

before the sun.

From the night, the flowers bloom

And the morning is glittering in the horizon,

Under the veil of the morning.

The eyes of the mountaineer,

The light of the sun

Japanese mountaineer

naked in the moonlight.

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DEVOTED

There is no truth,

the truth and the lie

support each other!

In every truth

there is something deceiving!

The ambitious lie

is not so deceiving,

fictional, not eternal.

There is no truth contained in it

adjusted by itself.

It is solving the riddle of mystery

not paying attention if the truth

when is twisted becomes the lie!

These two opposite powers

continuously set each other to motion,

they deny each other in word puns,

start up fury, revenging rage.

Riddling, solving, I’m ashamed of you!

My eyes are hidden under the veil,

colors of light astonishing scale!!!

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Tatjana Debeljacki was born 1967 in Užice. She writes poetry, short stories, stories and haiku. She is a Member of Association of Writers of Serbia -UKS since 2004. She is Haiku Society of Serbia- Deputy editor of Diogen. She also is the editor of the magazine Poeta. She has four books of poetry published. Follow her on Twitter.

 

Poetry by Felino Soriano

Of language this ocular innervation

 

Aeriform

Separated syllables engaging reflectional differences.

Seesaw of waves exiting tonal creations thus

experimental burgeons.

 

Ash of

the heard’s appositional frequencies

these diagrams of trust

within adjectives then dying of kaleidoscopic fusillades.

 

Thrust of the thorax

syncopated exertion finality, genesis.

 

With(out)in

Palm the trusted warmth

among releasing (mockery) constant leaving

affirmation absence darkness

darkens laughter of prior temporal

rejuvenated elation.

 

Certain

Mood, emotion.

Listening, interpretation.

Uncovering, cultivation.

 

Radial the cylindrical spiral of dialectic

performing range of rage too of

 

oscillating gradations

of

understood affirmations.

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Felino A. Soriano is a case manager and advocate for adults with developmental and physical disabilities.  Recent poetry collections include Intentions of Aligned Demarcations (Desperanto, 2011), Pathos etched, recalled: (white sky books, 2011), and Divaricated, Spatial Aggregates (limit cycle press, 2011).  He edits and publishes the online journal, Counterexample Poetics.  For information regarding his published works, editorships, and interviews, please visit: www.felinoasoriano.info.

 

Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Friends

Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Friends

Cazadero, California January 7-21, 2012

From Doomsday to Bloomsday

by Holly Sisson

Our world is changing at an ever-increasing rate in response to global crises from hunger and war to the misappropriation of Earth’s natural resources. There are growing numbers of people being awakened by the effects of rapid globalization and the materialization of global warming. Our natural systems are acutely out of balance giving way to maladaptive addictions of anything from artificial sweeteners to the reliance on an unsustainable credit-based macro-economy that we have instituted at the cost of our local human communities. Trust is a phenomenon left for inter-dependent communities that see through the political idiom “every man for himself” as the illusory ambition it is. The fear induced by these maladaptive systems is reflected in mass media from network news to the film industry depicting zombie invasions and apocalypses.

Fortunately, finding problem with the current system is only the beginning to a revolutionary solution.

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

Respected globally for her work in non-violent communication and Earth-based spirituality, Starhawk (http://www.starhawk.org/) is one of the leaders of a growing revolution re-envisioning how we relate to each other and the natural systems of the Earth that are vital in sustaining life as we would like to know it once again. Her two week permaculture design course “Earth Activist Training” (EAT) skillfully weaves together the traditional science and philosophy of the movement’s founder Bill Mollison (http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html) with a spirituality that compares to the affluent indigenous and pagan practices around the globe. This combination provides a powerful and inspiring foundation for individuals to begin their unique and richly integrative action in restoring our natural connections and bringing our systems back into balance with each other.

The EAT course (http://www.earthactivisttraining.org/courselist.html) offers an incredible abundance of practical solutions to the world’s problems from natural building to alternative technologies, systems theory to time banks, bioremediation to aquaponics. Permaculture has created a common language of principles and timeless ethics from which we can come together on local and global scales with the health of our world being our central value. Forming the foundation for permaculture design and found in most traditional societies are three principles: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Integrating traditional living principles with modern day knowledge is integral in achieving a world where flowers continue to bloom and sustainable practices put us back into healthy balance where we can all fulfill our potential.

The task of learning how to rebuild our world in this two week intensive course is considerable and in order to maintain our endurance, Starhawk makes sure to sprinkle in fun and lively activities such as songs and getting up to do “a bun dance” in the middle of lecture in recognition of the abundance that comes with systems in balance, plus other hands on activities and rituals that put us in deeper connection with ourselves and the spirit of the Earth. We had a full moon ceremony around a bonfire on our second night where we sang songs and danced in appreciation of the fruits of the Earth, and we used the opportunity to make our “bio brew,” or compost tea- made of many secret ingredients including worm castings from worms that ate organic fruits and vegetables.  Some of us got the eye-opening and nose-closing (hopefully) experience of transporting the compost from the compost toilet, while others of us the pleasure of a wonderful view of the hills of Sonoma County while contributing the fruits of our healthy (hopefully) diets back into the soil.

There was also the day of workshops where we learned about closed-loop aquaponics systems, made tinctures that clean our blood and are good for allergies, how to stack functions in our herb gardens by using nitrogen-fixing herbs, dynamic accumulators, cover crops, and those that bring good bugs and bad bugs. On a field trip to Starhawk’s land we made cob structures on a fun day of mud-clay-straw stomping goodness which we then made “the psychiatrist’s office,” a Freudian bench and chair set next to her pond.

The diversity of individuals that make up the community of EAT alumni and facilitators are all over the globe working towards one common goal through a variety of tactics from being participating citizens to writing policy on clean water and oil use, creating socially conscious green businesses, starting intentional living collectives and educating others on how to reclaim an Earth-centered livelihood through observance of natural patterns and application of permaculture principles.

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You can contact Holly Sisson at holly.a.sisson@gmail.com.

Book review: “Not Exactly Haiku” by Leena Prasad

[Reviewed by Laura O’Brien]

Leena Prasad’s poetry collection, Not Exactly Haiku, is comprised of 51 haiku-like poems, each with its own drawing. The poems are similar to haikus in their sparse language and three-line structure, but they do not have the syllable count (5-7-5) that is usually used in traditional haikus. Traditional haikus are also typically ambiguous and inconclusive, and deliberately leave the reader to create their own understanding. However, these poems are written in contemporary language that is more grammatically accessible, making the poetry and imagery much more tangible. Thus, each poem feels complete because its message is immediately understood. It is then up to the reader to decide how this message applies to him/her.

Each poem is accompanied by a small drawing made by the author, and the drawings can both limit and enhance the poems. Sometimes the drawings are images from the poem, such as a beehive for the poem honeycomb. The drawing reinforces the imagery, but limits the poem to that specific scenario. However, a silhouette of a pregnant woman and child accompanies the poem clouds, which describes the sky before a storm. This juxtaposition adds a surprising layer to a very straightforward poem, and enhances the poem in a way that language could not.

The poems explore a variety of topics, which makes the collection great reading material for any mood. It feels more intimate with its direct, honest descriptions. Rather than distancing in its complexity, it welcomes the reader with personal art from someone else’s life. It’s a short, sweet, and positive read.

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You can contact the reviewer, Laura O’Brien, at lauraellaroberts@gmail.com.

Leena Prasad recently wrote an iPhone app which was inspired by Not Exactly Haiku. The app is currently available for 99 cents at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/not-exactly-haiku/id495835142?mt=8

 

Book review: “Defining the Edge Between Truth and Madness” by Wade Alexander

[Reviewed by George Teseleanu]

At the beginning of the year I received through the mail an interesting book, “Defining the Edge Between Truth and Madness,” by Wade Alexander. Although people say not to judge a book by its cover, this time we should make an exception. The design of the covers gives us a clue of what we will find inside them. The idea of choosing an eye symbol for this book’s front cover was inspired, since the poems offer an overview of the author’s life experiences.

The book starts with an emotional foreword written by the author’s wife. She tells us about her relation with the author and the stages of its manifestations. The accent is put especially on the stage of their relation’s destruction and how they reacted to this event. Although this is not a fairytale, it has a happy ending in which they discovered that their love never left, it was just “covered up in a cobweb of lies” and once they put it away they found their love again. After that we find a small introduction about the author’s childhood with two alcoholic parents and how the hell from his home influenced his adulthood. Some people might ask what these informations have to do with the book. I must tell them that they offer a background that helps the reader to better understand some of the poems.

After reading a few poems we find a pleasant surprise, through the poems we find strained small pieces of wisdom from the author’s life. Here is an example of such a piece:

“Time brings what is missing

In our souls,

And our souls bring what is missing

In our time.”

One of the major themes that we find in Wade Alexander’s poems is human nature. The author critics modern society, that it puts too much emphasis on personal gain and that this surrounds the human soul in lies, cruelty and greed. This surrounding prevents us from seeing the true meaningful things:

“Victory is in the smile of a child,

The safety felt by others,

The feeling of being needed.”

In these poems the author also talks about the ephemeral nature of human thoughts and actions:

“Man judges us by our victories.

The earth sees us as visitors.”

and the fact that we struggle all our life, but once death brings us peace, we start to fade from time.

In a few poems the author talks about his childhood and how his innocence and hopes were destroyed by the violence provoked by his parents:

“The love was beaten out,

The peace shattered by screams,

Faith replaced with lies,

Calm replaced with fear”

Living in a terrible fright he dreamt of a place where fear is replaced by love and tears by laughter of joy. In all this chaos the child found comfort in his grandfather, who offered him love and told him how great he will be. Through his child eyes, his parents looked like vengeful gods, and the author advises us to be careful with our actions because someday we will become gods for a child and our actions will mold him.

Another major theme through the poems is the relation of the author with his wife. He tells us how finding love in her, made him forget all his past pains. They both recognize, she in the introduction, he in the poems, that once problems appeared in their relationship, unresolved past problems started to emerge making things worst and so the past started to prey on the fragile present. The book is full of poems talking about the pain produced by these unfortunate events and how these poems were a part of the healing process. But to really connect with the author’s feelings you should read the poems by yourself. With these words said I really recommend this book of poems and I think that it will open your eyes and help you to better understand the human nature.

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You can contact the reviewer, George Teseleanu, at blana_de_maimutza@yahoo.com.

Film Review: “I Want To Get Married”

[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]

Take a gay character, with an unwitting penchant for slapstick comedy, and put him under pressure to be married before the controversial vote on gay marriage through Proposition 8 in California, and you have the recipe for a funny and thought-provoking film: I Want To Get Married.

Paul Roll (Mathew Montgomery) is a gay advertising specialist, and very good at what he does. He is, however, single, and with the Prop. 8 vote looming, feels he’d better hurry and marry. Yet he has no serious love interest and thus, at the urging of his best friend (Ashleigh Summer), embarks on a hunt for the love of his life.

Unfortunately, as competent as he is at his job, he’s basically incompetent at dating.   It’s as if Adrian Monk and Inspector Clousseau had a son.  He misreads situations, gets crushes when he shouldn’t, and can’t stand the messiness of the whole dating/sex scene.

Comedy continues into the subplots. His mom (Lisa Franks) leaves his dad (Patrick M.J. Finerty) and while traveling to see Paul, gets stuck in a run-down desert motel/casino, where she links up with a cross-dresser and great singer (Mathew Martin).    Dad, meantime, tries to find her, gets mugged and stripped, and just misses her as he staggers—sans pants– into the casino.

In the meantime, Paul, needing money, lets himself be hired by Deborah Anderson (Mark Chambers) of The Family, a well-paying homophobic organization, to create ads for Prop.8, with a resulting ethical dilemma made worse by the discovery that his mom has donated big money to this group. The plot swirls from plot to subplot to subplot, yet they all spin together to a satisfying end.

First shown at the Cinema Diverse Film Festival in Palm Springs in 2011, this film was written, directed, and edited by Billy Clift, produced by Terry Malloy.  Interested viewers can find it on DVD through Amazon.com.

For a look at Prop 8’s impact on people’s lives that is serious, though presented in a comic fashion, see I Want To Get Married, an entertaining and interesting independent film.

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You may contact the reviewer, Bruce Roberts, at brobe60491@sbcglobal.net.

Performance Review: Mariano Pensotti’s “El pasado es un animal grotesco” (“The Past Is a Grotesque Animal”)

HOW COMPLETELY WRONG YOU CAN BE

El pasado es un animal grotesco (The Past Is a Grotesque Animal)

Text and direction: Mariano Pensotti

Performed at YBCA Forum

Reviewed by Christopher Bernard

 

Argentine theatrical director and writer Mariano Pensotti’s ambitious performance piece evanesced in three performances in the middle of February in San Francisco, in the middle of a lengthy international tour his company is doing, and leaving behind it a long trail of disintegrating engrams like cold, vanishing sparks: the sense of a futile but unavoidable search into the meaning of the past for the present, and of the present for the future, even if all we can ever hope to keep of our present moments is a deck of damaged photographs called memories from which we devise an elaborate fiction we call our life.

The piece (it doesn’t feel quite right to call it a play) is performed on a revolving stage, made of undressed pine and divided into four pie-shaped sets; partly via dialog, partly by way of an endless, recitative-like voice-over, in Spanish, with English supertitles, by four actors playing young Argentines living out the dilemmas of growing up between the years 1999 and 2009; that is, between Argentine’s economic collapse and an uncannily similar one that hit the West at large ten years later.

As Pensotti recounts in the program notes, he got the idea for the piece from a collision of events and questions: a series of damaged photos, many of nameless Argentines, that he started collecting from a photo lab that used to stand near his home (and has since closed due to the digitalization of photography) and a series of questions about the growth of hopeful, dream-filled youth as it moves into its first years of disillusioning maturity, and another series of questions about how we build our identities on a complicated foundation made up of the illusions of aspiration, the fragments of failed dreams, and the compromises we make with an often recalcitrant and incomprehensible reality.

If this makes the play seem to court the problems of excessive ambition, it should. The play itself – performed by an extraordinarily able and energetic quartet of actors (Pilar Gamboa, Javier Lorenzo, Santiago Gobernori and Maria Ines Sancerni) who, in the two-hour performance, create dozens of characters spawning subplots and counterplots in more than 80 scenes – just manages to maintain enough coherence to keep me, as a spectator, committed, at the occasional price of psychological plausibility, and thus momentary losses of sympathy with the characters’ dilemmas. Which is a small shame, as those dilemmas are often ludicrous and tragic and all-too real: a young filmmaker and his girlfriend, love-drunk on each other, entangle and disentangle their romance between painful sorties into the disappointments of the harsher reality outside their impassioned dyad; a young woman discovers that her father has a second family, and sets out to spy on him and pull him back into her own emotional orbit by means as devious as his own have been toward her; an aspiring young business man receives a box containing a severed hand that turns his next ten years into a recurring nightmare of almost farcical paranoia that he is never able to resolve, explain or become resigned to: a MacGuffin representing the ultimately grotesque enigma of human life.

At the end of the play, as the stories of the four Argentines are left in an uneasy state of irresolution, the last, or perhaps the first, element that fed Pensotti’s restive imagination peals out, as the empty stage revolves beneath the fading light, through the sound system that throughout has been regaling us with a mixture of pop tunes, “house” and what one of the characters himself complains is too much folk music: the alt-band “of Montreal,” with the dark, knowing, disillusioned voice of Kevin Barnes singing,

“The past is a grotesque animal, and in its eyes you see …”

http://www.amazon.com/Past-Grotesque-Animal/dp/B003SA81TQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1329589414&sr=1-2

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Christopher Bernard is the co-editor of Caveat Lector magazine and author of A Spy in the Ruins.