April 14, 2021 | 7:00 – 9:00 PM (PST) | FREE | RSVP

Join us for an artist book launch and evening of home amusements ~

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Free limited edition BLACK BOX PIZZA BOX (25 avail; first come first served). Pickup location: SCA Lobby near Audain Gallery

Digital BLACK BOX PIZZA BOX. Print to enjoy at home: DOWNLOAD  

School for the Contemporary Arts [performance] presents BLACK BOX PIZZA BOX, a homemade delivery comprised of a series of instructive and lively plans for play, community, and inquisitive individuals; 1,001 activities for heart, health, and fun; jollification essentials; a source to alleviate perpetual boredom; gay times at the end of the world; anything but actual pizza; the peak of scripted pleasure for all ages; & merrymaking for the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th century.

Authors: Breanne Birk, Sean Bray, Mau Garcia, Rebecca Kabesh, Alexandra McDougall, Haylee Turner, Alexander Zavorotny

Editors: Ryan Tacata and Montserrat Videla

A friend invites you over for an evening of entertainment. Others will join later, making it a party. You enter their house and find the living room turned upside down; not in a burgled way, but the window curtains now hang in a door frame backlit by a floor lamp. The kitchen table seems dragged into the middle of the room and a severed head lies at its base. You bend down to take a closer look. Its eyes flash open. “Hello!” it says, as if startled awake—you’re startled, too. It’s your beheaded host and this is their home amusement.

Scaring guests with decapitated heads played strongly in 19th century home entertainment manuals. This grotesque amusement took on slightly different forms across publications, but the staging technique was always the same. For example, “The Severed Head” from What shall we do to-night? Or social amusements for evening parties (1873) produced a single head that stuck out from beneath a tablecloth which guests would stumble upon with horror; whereas Winslow Homer’s “Blue Beard Tableau,” which appeared in Harper’s Bazar  in 1868, invited ‘mannered’ women to embody Bluebeard’s murdered wives from the French folktale by poking their heads through holes in a sheet, tying their braids to a suspended rope, and maintaining a closed eyed and slack jawed expression. In Laboring to Play (2005), Melanie Dawson describes these Victorian era amusement manuals as “challenging middling ambitions for polite manners, for streamlined professionalism, and for genteel living, showcasing visions that extended beyond the comfortable circumference of everyday life to celebrate displays of exaggerated, unsocial bodies.”

From January to March 2021, students from the School for the Contemporary Arts created a series of performance responses to a digital collection of 19th century home entertainment and amusement manuals. First, they engaged these primary sources as their initial prompts for response, then later mined their own social practices to create Black Box Pizza Box. Inspired by multimedia Fluxkits and alternative art publications such as Aspen and THE THING, Black Box Pizza Box delivers participatory performance to your front door as we continue to distantly socialize during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within, home audiences will find instructions and props for experimental forms of play. These amusements are based on historical tableaux vivants and parlor games, as well as TikTok challenges and the contemporary sport of beer pong.

Black Box Pizza Box is a manual best used by those exaggerated, unsocial bodies of the 21st century.

Notes: Daswon, Melanie. Laboring to Play. The University of Alabama Press, 2005. p. 1.

April 14, 2021