March 28, 2007
Brian Sholis

Some artworks command dissertations; others exemplify a joie de vivre that instills in viewers a desire to re-create them. C. L. U. E. (color location ultimate experience) Part 1, 2007, a new video created by A. L. Steiner in collaboration with the dance duo robbinschilds, falls squarely into the latter camp. After watching it several times on one of the first warm days of spring, I wanted nothing more than to hit the open road with a video camera in hand and a friend in the passenger seat. The eleven- minute work presents a choppy stream of static shots in which Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins, clad in a rainbow selection of almost-matching monochrome outfits, perform nearly synchronized, inventive maneuvers (more jumping jack than battement tendu jeté) in a wide variety of echt-American settings: a suburban lawn and swimming pool, a rural railroad crossing, a dense redwood forest, a desolate stretch of blacktop in the desert. Almost and nearly are the key words here: The video is filmed fast and loose, which, along with a propulsive instrumental sound track from Washington State psych-rockers Kinski, gives the work a large part of its charm. One could say that the way the dancers' bodies fit into the landscape (at the junkyard, for instance) echoes VALIE EXPORT's "Body Configurations" series, or that some of the quick cuts, zooms, and cryptic gestures call to mind Aïda Ruilova's videos, but it may be best to make comparisons after part 2 is complete. For now, one should take a cue from the title and, after watching, seek out one's own ultimate experiences.

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