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Performance  |  Stoney Connors/ Theory of Positive Disintegration, Part I: Fear of Fear

The Historic 72-Hour Solo Collaborative in and around the Burchfield Penney Art Center

Friday, November 8, 2013, 10 am–10 pm

Collection Study Gallery  

EPISODE ONE: The Punishment Begins

Come in and explore ... the world through the eyes and ears of Stoney Connors. Experience the world  the way Stoney does every single day of his life.

Stoney Connors is a previously obscure 73-year-old conceptual/perceptual/performance/media/audio artist who was so far ahead of his time that, even after he fell asleep for nearly four decades after a massive drug-taking binge in the early 1970s, he woke up in September 2001 to find that he was still on the bleeding edge of the culture. After a few years getting reacquainted with the art scene, he declared himself ready to come back with a vengeance.

This fall, the Burchfield Penney Art Center prepares to make art history and history artful with the long-awaited, twice-in-a-lifetime comeback of the massively seminal maximal minimalist/minimal maximalist/mediamagician/techno-sham-man Stoney Connors, aka Stony Conners aka Sonny Cooners aka Stanley Coonrad aka Spoony Radstone aka Cooter Stoolsample aka Copper Stomperwood aka Soon Yi Croonerson aka Coonskin Capperston aka Connie Sun Rad aka Little Stoney Sunshine. (The artist works under so many aliases for several reasons: 1. Because he can no longer remember his birth name; 2. Because he is engaged in a lifelong quest to discover his true identity; 3. To evade the authorities who have never forgiven him for past crimes against culture; 4. To cover his tracks like a hypervigilant deer; and 5. To spread confusion among the easily confused.)

Making his first Buffalo appearance in 9 years with a mammoth 72-hour-long “solo collaboration with the known universe,” Connors will be unveiling his “psychodelic pscentsorium,” a term notable primarily for its difficulty to spell or pronounce, let alone explain. As best anyone can understand, the audience-immersive device (or gadget, or gewgaw, or Funkadelicized alien spacecraft, depending on what mood he is in when you ask him) allows the artist to produce an entirely new though utterly precedented combination of music and images through the employment of what he calls ‘abject tech’ : Analogue keyboards rescued from the trash, outmoded digital equipment, incompatible stereo components, rejected cat toys, and 36 crates of unmarked cassette tapes. Connors may or may not also be “spinning” a vast collection of badly warped and water-damaged 33, 45, and 78 RPM recordings, although he has difficulty deciding which speed each one sounds best at, so this is not to be encouraged.

The new piece, Theory of Positive Disintegration, takes its name, elements of its structure, and certain key thematic material from the comedy stylings of Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980), whose observations about human development were informed by his bearing direct witness to the horrors of two world wars and the rise of Stalinism. Dabrowski’s fun-loving theories turn conventional self-help wisdom upside down: What are commonly thought of as “nervous breakdowns” point the way to personal breakthroughs, depression is embraced as a necessary element of transformation, and growth is understood as nonlinear, with certain stages completely optional for all but a select few.