SHRIMPS: Performance Art (1986–2005)
Featuring: Martin Kersels, Pamela Casey, Steven Nagler, Gail Gonzalez, Ryan Hill, & June Scott.
I first met the SHRIMPS when I worked as the Performance & Video Art Coordinator at LACE in 1985. One night I was alone in the gallery, when I opened the door a giant stood in the hall. Martin Kersels, 6’7” entered, followed a slightly shorter though stronger Steven Nagler. They were followed by a cadre of small, muscular and fashionably dressed women lead by Pam Casey and Gail Gonzalez. They proceeded to rehearse. I was scared of them, even though they seemed like such nice people.
Soon I was invited to “sing” for SHRIMPS. Our first performance together was on Santa Monica Beach, on top of the some concrete platforms and I sang “Wild Thing.”
I continued singing and performing with SHRIMPS for over 10 years and loved performing with them. It was not dance but intensely physical performance. The work was highly conceptual: dreamt up by very smart people who all went to art school and approached performance in a purely visual way. The pieces were klutzy and rudimentary, with elemental names like TONGUE, SCREECH, STUMP, STUN and LOOKS. Yet they were transcendent and celebratory: performance art as daily ritual; primitive and community oriented in a way that reminded one of the parades in Bali.