The lights are down low, the room festooned with streamers, balloons and posters imploring your vote for prom Queen or King at artist Eri King’s "Saver’s Prom" event held Friday, Jan. 18, at the Winchester Cultural Center. Guests wearing formal attire from various decades filter in, posing for photos in front a bright pink background with rainbow star announcing “prom,” in a high-pitched, enthusiastic squeal of teen spirit. Photo with their “date” dutifully taken, prom attendees head up to join the early arrivals already getting their groove on to Pat Benitar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” The dial is set to awkward teen social.
A prom is a glittered monument to youthful excess, a night danced away in a dress never worn again. Over in the gallery space, we encounter other monuments to consumption and entertainment. We find a totem of cubed television sets, boom box, cellphones and Gameboy. There’s a rainbow pillar of VHS boxes, from floor to ceiling, making use of containers for the Nutty Professor and Forest Gump that would otherwise be mouldering away in a donation bin. A seat constructed from black VHS tapes becomes a throne to discarded entertainment.
Like the rest of King’s work, the “Saver’s Prom” was an exercise in reclaiming. Old prom dresses were resurrected from the closet or purchased from thrift shops to be redeemed on the dance floor once more. King herself wore a Carrie-inspired white lace number with puffed sleeves. Other outfits harkened back to proms of cinema past, such as a Pretty in Pink outfit worn by Marlene Siu, or fashion statements from the past, with '70s afro and stripes worn by Mathew Couper or the '80s black leather vest with floral print on JK Russ. A projector onstage beamed clips from iconic prom films, so in addition to recycled clothing, the "Saver’s Prom" recycled prom themes of the past as well.
Interesting to note that the majority of King’s volunteer group is other local artists. The pulling together of artists in the Las Vegas art scene to participate in the work of their colleague revives an old art practice. During the '50s and '60s New York Art School and Fluxus Art movements, performance artists and artists of other mediums regularly attended and volunteered in the pieces of their cohorts, increasing the exposure and notoriety of all involved. The increasing group mentality of local artists happening now may come to define a new era of art in Las Vegas.
Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 McLeod Drive, http://www.clarkcountynv.gov