October 31, 2015
Surreal Images float on a screen, where scraps of words appear and disappear in Carl Hancok Rux’s puzzling “The Exalted" at BAM Fisher Theater. In telling the story about Carl Einstein, a German artist and scholar who championed African art, Anne Bogart directs Rux and the elegant, gorgeously voiced Theo Bleckmann.
More an emotional painting composed of words, music and dance, the story line about this remarkable man who committed suicide trying to elude the Nazis in France, hardly surfaces. Moods and images that suggest harsh goose-stepping Nazis, the infiltration of jazz and sexual desires float through space like the images behind the actors.
Always compelling, Rux wears suspender held pants and a cap-- kind of country compared to Bleckmann’s urbanity-- starched shirt and suit, neatly combed back hair and spectacles. Scraps of history weave together the German and African connection. Rux suggests the German genocide of tribes in Namibia in 1904 established the armature for the German’s extermination of the Jews in World War II.
Bleckmann’s pristine clarity of movement, gesture and song compliment Rux’s more round, deep voice and visually free-form style. At times, the two address each other over dances of sharp edges and grace that veer from courtly and to threatening.
In a way, "The Exalted’s" structure outlines a meticulous life infiltrated by messy emotions. Hard to add a linear narrative to this psychological journey, but there were times when one hungered for more concrete details on the fascinating Carl Einstein’s artistic revelations.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis