Live: Prince Rama Start Their Own Cult At Issue Project Room
The Hare Krishna-bred, Animal Collective-produced crew Prince Rama are the Brooklyn-based band you previously might've seen performing alongside a homemade vacuum-cleaner-powered organ during Body Actualized Control's dusk "Evil Yoga" class on the Market Hotel rooftop last summer, "getting weird" with Deakin at the New Museum, or, more recently, ladling soup at the Clocktower while nude under fur, with a prayer-bell-clad cat in tow. Sunday, they kicked off a three-month artist residency at the Issue Project Room in Gowanus.
For this performance, titled UTOPIA=NO PERSON (the first in their three-part series examining "musical performance as ritual"), sister bandmates Taraka and Nimai Larson present themselves as members of a "pseudo-utopian cult" called "THE NOW AGE." Sporting leotards and headsets, they invited willing "initiates" to follow them in a clever 20-minute routine (repeated hourly), which explores the similarities between exercising and exorcising. In their own words: "UTOPIA=NO PERSON focuses on the body as a vehicle for utopian experimentation, encouraging willing participants to undergo a confrontation with personal demons and shedding of individual identity through the physical exhaustion of the body." And so on.
The immersive setting included a bar offering rainbow-colored "chakra water"; smoky incense; video projections and monitors; altars with skulls, feathers, and a disco ball; metallic sheets covering the walls; bunches of garlic hung over the door; colored flashing lights; and, of course, a transcendental soundtrack of distorted synthesizers, bells, and chirping birds. See photos and quotes from the routine below, along with a short video clip of the "burn" moments preceding the mid-set "transformation" of the participants.
Entering the Issue Project Room is always fun. The chakra-water bar. Nimai and Taraka Larson, sprinkling their fairy dust. "Throw your arms up into the air - victory!" "Embrace the positive energy." "Toss our fears into the fire." "Feel the fire below you! It's burning your demons! It's getting hotter, but you're stronger; you're gonna consume your demons, you're gonna burn. Lower your body, burn, burn, burn, burn!" "Up on our feet! These are new bodies, after all -- we're gonna exercise 'em." Say your prayers (to whomever).