• Cliff Hengst in Mr. Akita

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Mr. Akita

Mr. Akita is a satire about life, sex, art, masculinity, ego, expectations, failure, disillusionment, and the sublime, written and directed by Los Angeles–based artist Asher Hartman and performed by San Francisco–based artist Cliff Hengst. This one-man performance introduces a nameless middle-aged man in a black professional suit reminiscing about his past, specifically a convoluted relationship with his art school professor Mr. Akita. The professor’s character evokes the great Modernist painters—in particular Willem de Kooning, with his Dutch-American accent—even though Mr. Akita happens to be a dog. Across the gallery from the protagonist hangs a large painting with a bright white sunburst radiating from its center, Sun Burn (Split) 1 by Emily Joyce. The man engages the painting in a dialogue about his evocative journey in search of existential answers through the lens of art.