Nick Vaughn and Jake Margolin’s A Marriage has modest ambitions. The two conceptual/performance artists, married in 2008, want viewers to contemplate gay marriage, queer assimilation, and fetishization of the suburbs. In contrast to their humble aims, though, they’ve turned HERE into a humongous, two-floor, 25-ring circus, incorporating at least five elaborate video and multimedia projections, video light boxes, sitting areas, and an extensive list of nightly performances. They’ve painted nearly the entire interior gallery white. Props from the performances—garden hoses, picket fences, spray paint cans, 448 packets of Bubblicious gum—double as conceptual sculptures when not in use.
If there’s part of this giant spectacle you dislike, it’s easy to move on to something you do. Of the more compelling components, there’s an elegant black-and-white video interview in which downtown luminaries, including Lisa Kron and Penny Arcade, express their confusion about and dissent from gay-marriage fever.
In the performance I saw upstairs, the two men, dressed in white tank tops, manipulate and cut some wonderfully noisy sheets of Tyvek HomeWrap, melding Gilbert & George ennui with blue-collar homo chic. The space is sexy, and so are the guys, but some of the proceedings feel a little neutered. Perhaps Vaughn & Margolin mean to imply that gay marriage has endangered gay sex. It’s too frequently assumed that same-sex marriage is as dull as traditional marriage. But that’s often just what people mean when they say equality.