On July 16 and 17, High Line Art presented Misty Malarky Ying Yang, a new performance by artist Ryan McNamara that celebrated the 35th anniversary of President Jimmy Carter’s famous 1979 “Malaise Speech.”
The nationally televised speech focused on the ongoing energy crisis. Carter pronounced that the American standard of fossil-fuel gluttony would have to end, and the solution would be self-sacrifice as much as policy. His candor went over well for a few days, until the American public realized that the President was pointing the finger squarely at them. It is known as the final nail in the Carter administration’s coffin. For the High Line Performance, McNamara and a group of dancers used the infamous speech as the point of departure for a choreographed spectacle.
The piece began each night at 7:30 PM, at the south end of the park at Gansevoort Street. An enclosed case held the performance materials – a collection of unforgiving lilac printed unitards. The four dancers posed, vogued, and skipped their way through the park in a succession of choreographed sequences, all the while reciting the infamous speech word for word. As the group made their way through the park, the crowd swelled with curious passersby, including a few bemused teens from a nearby High Line Teens dance party.
At risk of turning this into a “you had to be there” post, we’ve chosen a few of our favorite Instagram photos from each night of the performance. Hopefully they convey the energy and dynamism of this singularly kooky piece.