Crackheadbarney on the Venice Boardwalk - essay & workshop

Gerry Fialka and performance artist Crackheadbarney (aka CHB) are interested in presenting a workshop/lecture/salon on art. Read more details here, followed by Fialka's article on CHB. 

Thank you,
Gerry Fialka
Bio -
What the programmers and participants are saying about Gerry Fialka

Crackheadbarney Salon - Gerry Fialka and Crackheadbarney explore the performance artist exploring performance art in an interactive workshop. Delve into the history and future of this ever-changing art form. Imagine what it can become. It is said that in art and performance it is the singer not the song. We can probe these form and content issues with new metaphors and new questions. Theatre theorist and director, Augsto Boal writes, “Theatre is the first human invention and also the invention which paves the way for all other inventions and discoveries.” In his 1995 book Theatre for the Oppressed, he pioneers dialogic, interactive theater that enables us to observe ourselves and by so doing to "discover what is not and imagine what we could become." What? Imagine newness in performance art. Astonish us! This engaging art salon moves, and removes!


Crackheadbarney on the Venice Boardwalk by Gerry Fialka, Free Venice BeachHead May, 2019, Venice California

Many Venetians do not walk on the Boardwalk, and do not really know what they are missing. There's rainbows in that chaos, and waves of wonderment in the sea of humanity.

I have frequented the Venice California Boardwalk nearly daily for four decades. "Get your life and your job as mixed up as possible" is one of my mantras. In this lazy beach town, there's a fine line between "performance art" and "lifestyle choices." On April 25, 2019, I was fortunate to experience an amazing artist known as "Crackhead Barney" (referred to here as CHB). Her 5 minute act sprawled onto the board itself, at the feet of the strollers. Some tried to avoid her. Other gawked in disbelief. Eventually the locals were tipping generously for her uniqueness. She was needling somnambulism with astonishing intensity. She crawled on the boardwalk itself in an alarming way. McLuhan said, "To the blind all things are sudden." This maxim applies to CHB, whose every move had me on pins and needles. The sounds out of her small amp screamed like a Brian DePalma horror film embellishing uncertainty. CHB wore a Trump mask, and whipped out a ten inch dildo made of cloth, and then tucked it back into her gym trunks. 

These shocking gestures immediately evoked Carolee Schneemann, Johanna Went, Karen Finley, Lynda Benglis, Vito Acconci, Pat Oleszko (google'em homey) and Chris Burden, who did a lot of performance art just blocks from this very Boardwalk location. CHB transforms these innovators into a fresh newness that messes with your mind, body, soul and spirit. Shock it to'em. Art is anything you can get away with, and hers is staggering. CHB illustrates the Balinese credo, "They have no word for art, they do everything as well as they can."

I felt that CHB displayed Ruth Draper's aspiration: "The key is to bring the audience up onto the stage and into the scene with you. It is they who must give you even more than you give them in way of imagination and creative power."  CHB accomplished what Judith Malina & Julian Beck promoted: "We believe in the theater as a place of intense experience, half-dream, half-ritual, in which the spectator approaches something of a vision of self-understanding, going past conscious to unconscious, to an understanding of the nature of all things." 

CHB has the courage to take these risks as a street performer, and we should be proud that Venice provides the venue. She did not have to get booked at Red Cat, the Hammer, or LACMA for us to experience her. Those venues are important, and definitely helped "art critic of art criticism" supreme Matt Gleason to write his book Most Art Sucks. Read it !!! CHB does not suck ! She stimulates critical thinking skills with new questions and new metaphors.

The fool is portrayed as the peripatetic wanderer, the mutable, changeable, shape-shifting trickster who tries our patience, tempers our self-importance, and challenges our perceptions. The fool mirrors a universe which is both timeless and changing, a universe which is both waves and particles.” - Peggy Beck.

Frank Zappa retrieved Eddington’s 1920 term, calling this universe “wavicles.” Crackheadbarney spun wavicles of wonderment causing an overwhelming tsunami of feelings that washed over Venice, where there is more than just the water. Let's hope she floods the Venice Boardwalk with her seismic sea waves again.