Photo by Chelsea Rowe

Media Mixed to The Max

Monday, March 29, 1999

Dance piece center of Brady Street forum Octavio Roca, Chronicle Dance Critic San Francisco Chronicle KUNST-STOFF, an eclectic dance company founded by Tomi Paasonen and Yannis Adoniou, hosted an art forum called "White Time" at the Brady Street Dance Center this weekend. The main fare was Paasonen's "Tube 58," an unruly, endearing and often fascinating new dance. The weekend featured short films by Adoniou, Alex Ketley and others. There was a loopy art installation that greeted the audience on the way to the dance, complete with a well-stocked bar - Finlandia Vodka is a prominent sponsor of the company - and several striking mixed-media pieces: Beth Bergen's arid photographs and Donal Mosher's platoon of fluffy teddy bears and stuffed bunnies with their faces hollowed out were particularly unsettling. Dots and Pillow Then there was the Paasonen piece. The standing-room only crowd Friday night first saw a vast space spray-painted white, fast-moving dots projected wall to wall from the back of the house and, stage left, a very tall white armchair with a big white pillow. Upstage was a video monitor with a flickering screen, and the whole space soon became a big TV as the dots traveled faster and faster. The white pillow began to move and turned out to be a supine creature padded out like the Michelin Man. "Is this the end?" Again and again and again?" he said. What followed was a fascinating jumble of a play about gene manipulation, television realities and an elusive Fountain of Youth. There were gas masks and reindeer horns, slimy cutlets of raw liver, a fat Energizer Bunny and a basic San Francisco drag queen, a corps of dancing Mutants and some frankly awful amateur actors. At the close, after nearly two intermissionless hours, the Michelin guy asked once more, "Is this the end? Again and again and again?" Did it work? Sometimes. The amateur and the avant-garde mingled uncomfortably: Paasonen's video projection and Matthew De Gumbia's lighting design were nothing short of brilliant, but too much of Paasonen's text consisted of sophomore sophistries about the nature of time, and the delivery of the lines was embarrassing. Taped Music Worked The taped musical mix - everything from Glazunov to Ligeti and the Aphex Twins, with an uncredited bit by Michel Legrand - worked well, but a ballet parody didn't, simply because it takes sold ballet technique to make fun of ballet. The KUNST-STOFF dancers are no Trocks. Yet a lot of "Tube 58" was impressive. And when the dancers seemed to disappear as if in a snowstorm, becoming part of the flickering video patterns projected on the set, the stage pictures were stunning. KUNST-STOFF returns July 2 with a variety show by Adoniou and Paasonen called "American for Aliens."