Niki McCretton, Heretic

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

‘P for prophet, Q for quench’ – Fooltime-trained Niki McCretton begins with an unrevealing alphabet of dusty bible and liquid staging. With snatches of dance, liturgicalised monologue and ‘fuck, fuck, fuck!’ irritability she takes us through the part-desert, part-oasis of her set of religious doubts. There are conventional moments of sandy self-scarification, crunching sexuality and spirituality in the usual manner. McCretton introduces herself first as a screen, then introduces a tiny tomato plant to the unction of her bodily fluids

Clunky chunks of theology and science – ‘that Flood was just bad weather’ – ironically and unproductively rub up against each other while McCretton works in between them. With sacraments in specimen bags this is transgressive stuff, but it, thankfully and exceptionally, moves beyond that into an un-ironical de-attitudinised sublimeness. A territory somewhere between doubt, faith and disbelief – somewhere adjacent to the religion-less Christianity of Dietrich Bonhoeffer – but there isn’t really a name that wouldn’t misrepresent.

When her apotheosis comes it is in a personal mass-bread from the plastic piqued with her own sweat (‘Quiet Days In Clichy’), blood from the meat of a piss tomato (Andre Serrano) – it is cool and messy, reference-full but representationless, sacred symbols floating free from their meanings.

This is an honest, ascetic, pervy and sulky personal struggle with an aspiritual world – weeping and winking at us from its altar/kitchen top, casually inflecting its sceptical commandments (‘The Ten Suggestions’). She turns the humiliation of the street evangelical, furiously proselytising an audience of bottles, into an accessible meeting with God/astronaut, the heavy breathing apex of rationality and earth a heaven far away. Wonderful.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 27