My father used to bound out of bed every morning yelling “I’m a ball of fire!” when I was in high school as a result of his Dale Carnegie training sessions. That’s only one reason why I found last week’s performance at New Langton Arts by Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert strangely satisfying. Contextualizing the American self-help movement by reading texts from early antecedents such as “Poor Richard’s Almanac” by Ben Franklin, the artists set the stage. They then brought on an actual Dale Carnegie instructor to work with the audience in an embarrassing session called “Selling Yourself and Not Your Art” where the instructor worked therapeutically with the audience’s approach to gallerists. Smart-ass feedback from the audience composed almost entirely of artists made the whole enterprise quite entertaining; one victim/volunteer’s motivator was determined to be “oil”. The performance analyzed a peculiarly American do-it-yourself impulse, touched on class and political issues, and brought the ideal of artistic integrity squarely up against the current corporatization of our culture.

- Cheryl Meeker [Wednesday, April 30th, 2003]


From the editors