Theodora Skipitares has
never made puppet shows.
Instead she fashions living sculptures, using actors and handmade figurines to create animated historical performances. Her new multimedia
installation, Body of Crime II, occupies La MaMa’s Annex space with a raw immediacy, moving between epochs to
create a 12-scene tapestry about female criminals,
motherhood, and surveillance. It’s a work of savage magic.
Skipitares’s troupe of actors, puppeteers, singers, and satirists takes the audience on a tour of infamous womanhood— from the medieval Nun of
Watton in 1160 A.D. to the Rikers Island women’s wards. Going
on this tour is a shattering
experience. It is frightening, and beautiful too, the way a bonsai tree is beautiful. The work is both formal and personal; each branch is alive, each scene
rooted in truths.
Body of Crime challenges
us to think about wounded
spirits— women heretics in
prisons of body and soul. Ravaged privacy and broken limbs are just the starting points. Skipitares has studied the way that penal institutions and the church meddle with the minds of their subjects. She knows what it’s like to be in a prison.
Listening to the voices and songs, watching shadowy
flickers of resistance begin, we become participants. Body of Crime II has a deceptive
simplicity, but it’s a large work. Skipitares and her collaborators invite us to enter its sullen but captivating realm.
Annie Sparkle Fire
In a fire on her houseboat last week, performance artist Annie Sprinkle lost her home, her cats, and her life’s work,
including archives, wardrobe, and drafts of books-in-progress. She was out of town at the time and is uninsured. Donations of any size would be welcome at P.O. Box 396, Sausalito, California 94965. —C.Carr