Arca: Difficult

Arca | Mark Thompson photos

Alejandro Ghersi’s midnight DJ set at the Red Marquee didn’t seem to channel much from the records he releases as Arca. Though the music was denser and bassier than his recorded hip-hop, it was equally challenging, and didn’t seem overly personal. He didn’t sing—though he did a lot of talking and there was certainly a diva quality to the performance. In other words, it wasn’t your usual DJ show, though he did manage to play music that people could dance to, at least every so often, but there was almost a begrudging quality to it. Arca would often leave his equipment and come downstage, strutting back and forth and vocalizing in various modes, but always sounding desperate. At times he seemed to be egging the audience on, but toward what?


Co-billed AV artist Jesse Kanda, who sat onstage to the left, had the whole back screen to himself and he really used it. The images, mostly of animals in some sort of distress, were extremely difficult to watch at times, and he would keep repeating them over and over, as if he were obsessively picking at a scab. Sometimes, he would throw in footage from the award-winning documentary, “Leviathan,” about a fishing boat in the Atlantic, and it was a welcome respite from the body horror. Combined with the darker shades of Arca’s selection and the DJ’s confrontational attitude, the visual portion completed a performative trifecta that was fascinating without necessarily being enjoyable. And it went on for a long time.