The Apotheosis of George Herms

George Herms: The Artist’s Life, at Redcat, February 2011, was a free-jazz opera that brought us inside the artist’s head for an improvisational wander. The set was essentially a grand idealization of a studio, with giant sculptures – a spinning spiral staircase and a huge rusted buoy – suspended in space, and a central worktable whose contents, constantly rearranged, were projected on a screen behind. Herms moved through this space, talking to himself and to his audience about life and art and the impossibility of thinking about death. He moved the sculptures, used them as percussion instruments, made drawings and collages, choreographed and conducted, interacted and danced with the musicians – the Bobby Bradford Mo’tet and the Theo Saunders group, as well as the singer Diana Briscoe. In the end he buckled on a harness and rose above it all, soaring high on inspiration.