project image

first performed on September 21, 2018
Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
performed once in 2018


von curtis, James Crawford

Los Angeles, CA


“The Monstern!” is a performance, installation, and film screening. During the performance, a dozen monsters attend a burlesque show at the Rainbow Saloon. A monster dripping in fringe dances on stage to the saloon DJ. A vicious bar fight erupts, continually interrupting the evening’s entertainment. While the other monsters are trying to enjoy the show, two monsters fight each other, using over the top wrestling moves, smashing bottles and throwing each other through the furniture. One monster drags the other on stage, where the performer joins in on the violent fun. After the pair simultaneously smash chairs on each other, they then turn and fight the set. The performance ends with the entire cast of monsters destroying the set, smashing chairs and tables, and ripping down the curtains, until all that is left is a pile of rubble and the burlesque monster dancing on stage.

Using the genre of the Western, Beck+Col investigate the inherent violence of capitalism, the myth of American Exceptionalism, and the toxic masculinity ingrained within it. The Western genre has historically been used as propaganda, romanticising America’s past. It reflects our pro-individual, pro-capital, and pro-patriarchical system of values. The constant and repetitive violence in The Monstern addresses the ongoing brutality of American exceptionalism. Employing the spectacle, “The Monstern” is so Western, so violent—“it reminds us that capitalism is already violent, that under capitalism violence is ambient and systematic, and that capitalism will only yield through greater and different violence.”

In “The Monstern!” there are no heroes—only villains. Its main character is America’s greatest export: violence. No one lives.