American Realness

Ann Liv Young

Mermaid Solo

SAT JAN 8 . 10:30 PM
MON JAN 10 . 8:00 PM


Ann Liv Young’s style of audience interaction has been compared to the US government torturing prisoners at Guantánamo bay. A well-known museum director has likened her to an artist who sets off bombs in public places. A Viennese police report describes her as conducting “forced” interviews. (For good measure, we’ll add that she gets a lot of emails telling her she’s crazy and going to hell.) These critiques suggest that when you see Young perform, she locks you in a room and throws away the key.

In her new show, Mermaid Solo, Young is a mermaid retelling her life story. Whereas mermaids are sanitized and disneyfied in modern culture, in folktales they seduce, capture and kill sailors. Their allure is inescapable. They are sexualized, but also grotesque fish creatures who are, in fact, sexless. We are disgusted, intrigued and turned on. A mermaid protecting her oceans or a woman speaking her mind becomes something dangerous. These stories don’t come out of nowhere, magic or an ability to squash free will. We make them up because we desire them.