All Aboard the Xprez — Half-animation, half-performance piece brings the weird to CAF Thursday

Above: screenshots from the animated centerpiece to the new CAF show "Cartune XPrez." Photo courtesy of Hooliganship
Above: screenshots from the animated centerpiece to the new CAF show “Cartune XPrez.”
Photo courtesy of Hooliganship
Sometimes, a childhood spent watching Saturday morning cartoons pays off. For Peter Burr, one half of the artistic collective/band Hooliganship, now performs inside one (sort of) in the Cartune Xprez performance coming to the Contemporary Arts Forum next week.

Half animation revue, half performance, all weird, Cartune Xprez (its name a nod to USA Network’s own animation show) grew out of the minds of Burr and his co-conspirator Christopher Doulgeris.

“We like stuff that’s noncommercial,” Burr says, “work that is cannibalizing commercial imagery for the purposes of personal comment or narrative.”

Five years ago, Burr and Doulgeris were part of an art school crowd that was making videos, putting on performances and causing general havoc. When asked by a residency in Toronto to provide animations and program an event, they decided — as animation takes a long time — to combine their work with performance. And because one person’s work is so slow to complete, the two started to curate other works.

Hooliganship started as a band, and the duo began creating music and animation simultaneously in Doulgeris’s room. At the same time, Burr says, the World Cup was on, and the two became interested in the concept of the soccer hooligan, who has no equivalent in the States.

“There was this comedic quality to it. They’re like pirates, always up to some wanky kind of trouble,” says Burr. Hence, the name.

The range of artists goes from fine artists such as Martha Coburn, whose film work is shown in galleries, to the clay work of David Daniels, who worked in the 1980s on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” And in between there’s a lot of DIY work, which, Burr says, was born out of his own ideas as an artist, when he finally got a laptop and a copy of Adobe After Effects in 2005. Animation suddenly was very cheap, and he noticed many other artists coming to the same conclusion.

“They were coming out of that spirit of accessibility,” he says. “Suddenly there were these amazing tools that were accessible. You don’t need to be a production company to make a killer-looking animation.”

The mini tour — four shows down the West Coast — kicks off this year’s Cartune Xprez tour, the sixth since 2006. Hooliganship is Burr and Doulgeris providing an “electro-luminescent stage show.” That’s then a context in which they screen the videos from a laptop, their “production company, home entertainment system and our jukebox.”

They wanted to create a social atmosphere to the event and tour, Burr says, as an alternative to “sitting on my bed with my laptop surfing YouTube.” Well, he’s succeeded there.

The tour has grown well beyond Portland, and last year Burr took the Xprez to Eastern Europe, carrying all that he needed for the shows in one large backpack. (Doulgeris prefers to stay home and create work for the shows.)

“I went there confident that this (scene) was happening in Europe, too,” says Burr, and this year’s show includes work from artists such as Sebastian Buerkner, Taras Hrabowsky, Rimas Sakalauskas, Christine Gensheimer and Brandon Blommaert. “I feel I’m only barely tapping into it.”

‘CARTUNE XPREZ’
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Paseo Nuevo
Cost: Free
Information: cartunexprez.com or sbcaf.org

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