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Sense and Sensibility: Jim Pirtle and Robert Catalusci, One Night Only

June 27, 2018

In Houston, if you’re an artist: whether visual, musical, literary, dance, theatrical, vocal, performance, or con, you eventually make a pilgrimage to Notsuoh, the social sculpture / perpetual performance art created by Jim Pirtle. Typically, the journey is neither planned nor wise, but it happens. You’ll find yourself pulled into the bar’s desultory conversations involving the profound and the mundane, the aesthetic and the philosophic, the political and the pop-cultural and everything in between.

Notsouh on a warm summer's night


One evening in early 2018, Jim Pirtle and fellow performance artist Robert Catalusci, who is in Houston as an artist in residence at the Station Museum, were discussing their art. Pirtle discussed how he was interested in exploring the senses beyond the standard 5 senses, such as the nociception, the sense of pain, and the vestibular, the sense of the body’s position in space / the world. Intrigued by the idea, Catalusci discussed the idea with him at length. By the end of the night, Pirtle proposed that they do a combined performance around the senses. Catalusci thought that was a great idea and agreed to do a show with him. 


After a few days, Catalusci changed his mind. He still wanted to do the show, but he wanted his performance art piece to be completely different, which is par for the course for performance art. They got permission from Jennifer Free, the host of Performance Art Night (PAN), and Julia Claire, the director of Experimental Action to schedule their collaboration for PAN’s July installment. 


So on July 3, 2018 upstairs at Notsuoh, Jim Pirtle will perform a piece entitled Vestibular, which explores the vestibular system and focuses on positional security, and Robert Catalusci will perform Alien God, a multi-sensorial performance art installation where a shamanic universe deconstructs the present metaphysical human condition.


Richie Hubscher and Jim Pirtle as Stu Mulligan performing at CAM Houston


Where Pirtle’s art is political with a small ‘p’ involving the interactions of people with each other in their immediate environment, Catalusci’s art attacks political systems, allowing cultures to collide, conflict, and eventually coalesce into an orgiastic alternate universe. Pirtle works at the guttural level of individual senses. Catalusci operates on the group’s complex sense of self. It’s sensibility. This distinction is not b