Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Religions, Performance Art and Social Activism

I've been always fascinated with the voice inflections, body language, and gimmicks of new fundamentalists, motivational speakers, and always try to concentrate on their technique. More than once it has come across my mind as performance art. The I found this clip of Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. My first naive impression was that this was another crazy authentic religion. It turns out he is Bill Talen, a performance artist, who's turning into a high-powered anti-consumerism activist.

I liked this Talen's quote from an article published yesterday in The New Yorker magazine: “One time, I was arrested at a Buy Nothing Day Parade. We went in and exorcised a Starbucks cash register, and, sure enough, I got thrown in the holding tank at Fifty-fourth Street. And the cops that arrested me were really upset that they were missing this.” But this one, by Talen's associate, Reverend Michael O'Neill really caught my attention: “Community isn’t recognized unless it’s mediated through monetary transactions.”