project image
Melissa Ostrow

first performed on February 15, 2012
the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA
performed once in 2012


Dina Deitsch, Abigail Ross Goodman, Kristina Newman Scott, Darren Evans, Abby Newbold, Brian McNamara, Golden Arrows, Mariachi Estampa de America, Chloe Clown Pig, Pennie Taylor, Leslie Condon, SJ Brooks, Jessica Ginsberg, Maria Molteni, Ben Mauer, Bami Adedoyin, Alex Auriema, Shari Lynn Bence, Matthew Franks and many others

Los Angeles, CA


“Spectrum of Inevitable Violence” is a choreography in quiet paranoia that explodes into irreverence and revolt. This installation and performance invites participants to survey and analyze their class background across four categories of power: Socioeconomic Status, Cultural Capital, Class Status and Social Mobility. The resulting scores are mapped onto a four-quadrant stage that serves as territory to defend in a dynamic confrontation—with food as ammunition. For the deCordova Museum 2012 Biennial, the spatial, one-night event had approximately 125 participants, 30 volunteers, five Mariachi musicians and a live pet pig. “Spectrum of Inevitable Violence” played to the rich history of its site at the Cyclorama, which was built in 1884 to house a cycloramic painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. The installation was appropriately positioned within a monument to the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War—echoing tensions of civil unrest.

This public battle exposes subjects we mostly keep to ourselves: how class and social mobility permeate our culture, interpersonal relationships and careers. The elaborate survey asks boldly intimate questions about family income, education, eating and exercising habits, travel, unpaid internships—pressuring us to be painfully honest with our own selves. These questions conjure the intimate micro-dynamics that build structural inequality, and our anxiety to position ourselves relative to others.

During the event, all the structures and tensions lying below the surface of language and analysis exploded into a spectacularly meaningless mess. It smelled powerfully of vomit by the time the fight was over. The piece eludes neat genre descriptions, containing elements of theater, ritual, bureaucratic interrogation, analysis, irreverent rage, political sabotage, data visualization, installation, video and spectacle all at once.