We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
For American audiences, Sprockets host Deiter has forever cemented an unpleasant association between Eastern Europe and performance art. It’s true that the region has long been fertile ground for all sorts of unfathomable avant-garde activity, especially in the Czech city of Brno, which, in the 1970s, produced experimental theater troupes such as the Goose String Theater and HaDivaldo. After the Velvet Revolution, these groups became icons, attracting legions of serious international performance artists to the Czech Republic—and making things in the East that much more pretentious. But Czech equillibrists Thomas & Ruhller have turned performance art’s trademark overseriousness to their advantage. Named for pioneering Czech artist Tomas Ruller—who was arrested for performing nude in public, using explosives, and splattering paint on his audiences—the duo began their career in 1983, appearing in the smallest of coffeehouses and alternative art spaces. But they soon garnered a cult following, which quickly grew to mass popularity in their homeland—even among those who don’t know a thing about Fluxus. Television specials and stints performing in Darjeeling, Katmandu, and Mecca have followed. Tonight, the unusual duo appears on an American stage for the first time, accompanied by Czech movie star Tomas Hanak. Dig up that beatnik turtleneck and practice your look of earnest and deep comprehension at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom St. NW. $10. (202) 274-9100. (John Dugan)