Kat Murrell

12 hours, 12 performances, a once in a lifetime show

RedLine Milwaukee's 12/12/12 event features 12 performance art pieces from every end of the medium's broad spectrum, stretched to fill a half day.

By - Dec 10th, 2012 04:00 am

This Wednesday, the calendar will read 12/12/12. This is indeed a singular event, not only for the numerological significances of time and date, but for the works of performance art which will be enacted that same day. As the clock strikes noon, twelve performance art pieces will begin at RedLine Milwaukee, each lasting until midnight.

12/12/12 will take place at Redline Milwaukee this Wednesday, Dec. 12 from noon to midnight. Image courtesy http://12-12-twelve.tumblr.com

One of those performers is Pegi Christiansen, a longtime mainstay of the Milwaukee art scene. When she wrote a booklet on the history of performance art in 2004 (Convergence: Performance Art in Milwaukee), she included a succinct description of the varied artistic category in her recounting of its storied past: “The terms ‘interdisciplinary’, ‘multimedia’, and ‘crossover’ tend to pop up in descriptions of performance art. They indicate that the performer won’t stay within the boundaries of comedy, dance, film, music, poetry, ritual, sculpture, theatre, or video.”

So calling the realm of performance art a broad one is a bit of an understatement. Also critical to performance art is its temporal nature. It is a profoundly time-based practice, and 12/12/12 extends it to an artistic marathon. The artists will remain on the spot the entire time, their works unfolding without ever repeating. Viewers may come in at any time, or leave and return at multiple moments to see the process of evolution.

Physical pieces like John Kowalczyk’s The H 12  will visibly change over time. The work is a life-size cardboard and papier-mâché Hummer which will be ornately decorated and moved around the exhibition space. Sarah Gail Luther will create a drawing during the course of twelve hours, and Ashley Janke will collaborate with other artists in using RedLine’s front windows as a creative locus.

John Kowalczyk Motors rendering of The H 12. Image courtesy http://12-12-twelve.tumblr.com

Other performances will develop with theatrical or narrative qualities. Jennifer Morales’ Debit/Credit is a personal history of the past year, based on her financial records. More than a dry explanation of accounting, Morales will interject stories and solicit questions from viewers about the receipts and bank statements she reveals. The Last Haircut is a performance with Pegi Christiansen and Renee Bebeau. As Bebeau leaves her hairdressing career, it signals the end of this longtime interaction between her and Christiansen. The performance is mapped out in twelve segments which include the making of recipes involving cranberries (a fruit closely linked to Wisconsin), conflict resolution and Christiansen’s final haircut from Bebeau.

Many of the performances are built from the actions and creations of the artists, but also have a built-in capacity for audience participation. This will take the form of dialogue, written responses, and even text messages for interested viewers.

Performance art differs from theatre in its typically unscripted, unpredictable nature. As an event in Milwaukee’s art scene, 12/12/12 is an amalgamation of artists and works that will come together only once. It is an event where 12 hours may seem like a long-lived performance, but in the grander scheme of time, it will be over in a blink of an eye.


12/12/12 will take place at Redline Milwaukee, 1422 N. 4th Street, on Wednesday, Dec. 12, from noon to midnight. Admission is $5, or $10 for unlimited reentry.

Works will include the following installations and performances. See the 12/12/12 website for more details.

Wes Tank, Unrapping Undercurrents of Undulating Occurrences 

Kim Miller, Theater of the Heavy Clouds 

Pegi Christiansen and Renee Bebeau, The Last Haircut 

Tim Taylor & Nomadic Art Center, Domestic Erosion 

Theresa Columbus, Decision is a Choice 

Michael Kautzer, DECISION 12 12 12 

Jennifer Morales, Debit/Credit

Ashley Janke, with Lara Ohland, Xav Leplae, Ashley Morgan, Oliver Sweet, Tim Stoelting, Phyllis Baldino, Amiee Keil, Gitte Bog, Simon Faithful, Alfredo Hisa, Elaine Summers, and David Lamelas, Cross Section 

Sarah Gail Luther, A 12-Hour Drawing Performance Inspired by the Library 

Sara Caron and Lydia Jarvis, Revenge Coma 

Joseph R. Reeves, Cream City, Brick by Brick: A Post-Apocalypse Expedition 

John Kowalczyk, The H-12 



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