Stepping into the back room of the Invisible Dog gallery this weekend was something like wondering into one of those old marionette theaters for kids, except transplanted to Brooklyn and equally attended by trendy art folks and children. The gallery hosted four intimate performances of musician/composer Laurent Bigot’s “Le Petit Cirque,” (“The Small Circus”) to audiences of rapt children, and equally fascinated adults. The circus, a sound performance with noises made from mechanical toys sliding along wires and microphones strategically posted about the artist’s stage, was presented in conjunction with the French Embassy.
The whole “stage” was mounted on a simple table. Lamps were clipped onto and mounted on the edges. On the two far sides of the table sprung up two poles, strung together by a wire with a bird toy balancing on it. There was a lower set of wires on the back of the table and to the left a frame with a paper pin-up doll fastened to a swing inside it. Throughout the performance, Bigot would constantly add new elements to the structure, coils, plates and pedestals littering the miniature arena.
“There is as much to listen to as to watch” announced Bigot before Saturday evening’s debut performance. As paperdoll tightrope walkers glided along wires, theremin-like chords resounded. “Splat!” could be heard as Bigot flung little action figure men made of sticky-gel at a long roll of paper in front of him. Whirring metal tops spun out wildly from some air-pressure spinning top-releasing device (who knew those even existed?). Add to all of this the giggles and gasps from the children in the audience, and who needs Cirque-de-Soleil?
Bigot, with wrinkled forehead and outfitted in a black t-shirt and grey suspenders, recalled some lovably obsessive character from Amelie. Every once in a while the ringleader broke from the focus of the performance and let slip a “Oui!” or “Bon!” whenever one of his toys performed well. After a wind-up hamster toy had finished revolving and spinning around the inside of a sphere, Bigot picked it up and patted its head. After the performance, he was surrounded by a throng of cherub-like little children and took time to point out every toy and sound device to them.
Although there are no more scheduled performances of “Le Petit Cirque,” the Invisible Dog will be hosting another 3-part exhibition this weekend. And if you missed it, you can watch a video of a previous circus, here.