Northern Iowan

‘VertigoMini’ a disturbing delight

CECILIA MITCHELL, Event Critic

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There is an age-old saying that goes, “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.”

On Thursday, April 25, I had the opportunity to attend “VertigoMini: A Night of ‘In-Case’ Performance Art” in the Kamerick Art Building. This unique event did a superb job of being both disturbing and comfortable, creating a slightly jarring ambience that made viewers relate to their shared human experience and instinctual understanding.

VertigoMini was the first performance art show I have attended here at UNI, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Student performance artists filled the halls, rooms and glass cases throughout the Kamerick Art Building, giving the event an ambience similar to a haunted house. I was surprised by the sheer quantity of exhibits; even when it felt like I had seen all there was to see, there seemed to be more and more hallways to explore while the pieces I had already seen evolved and changed into new spectacles.

The piece that stuck in my mind throughout the night was located in a glass case on the first floor. It featured a man tearing out pages of the Bible, chewing them up into wads and spitting them across the vitrine. It was so simple but really poignant and interesting to watch. I also enjoyed riding the elevator with an artist who cut up a plethora of onions while sharing their emotional thoughts. That was an immersive and thought-provoking experience that involved many of the senses.

Other highlights of my VertigoMini experience included a display from the second floor, where a near-nude woman dissected fetal rats for the audience, splaying their guts out and putting the carcasses in a pile for all to see. It had this wonderful shock factor that is unique to the performance art genre.

Similarly, another woman stood behind a table, asking passerbys if they wanted a gift, blew up bright yellow balloons for them and asked them if they wished to keep or destroy the gift. I saw attendees wearing their balloons around their wrist, but I opted to destroy mine, popping it with a thumbtack. That was a pretty satisfying sensation.

On the second floor hallway between the two wings of Kamerick, two guys shared a bucket of spaghetti while sharing a nonsensical conversation. I watched that one for a considerable amount of time.

Directly below, I learned some sort of Naruto-inspired fight choreography and admired a fairy-like creature tending to her garden. VertigoMini certainly created an interactive and quirky experience for students and community members alike.

Many of the performance art pieces that took place outside of the glass cases involved pairs in costumes. These costumes had many shared motifs: haphazardly sewn pieces, tulle, balloons and large headpieces. Some of these pieces I didn’t enjoy as much; they were a bit predictable, doing odd motions and getting in passerbys’ faces. I was impressed by the construction of these costumes, but I was hoping for something a bit more unique and didn’t spend a lot of time observing these.

Spending an evening in an atmosphere like the one “VertigoMini: A Night of ‘In-Case’ Performance Art” was odd, slightly uncomfortable and incredibly entertaining. Therefore, I believe the event achieved its purpose of bringing a unique, immersive art experience to the UNI and Cedar Falls community and hope to attend another Vertigo soon.

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‘VertigoMini’ a disturbing delight