But much is startling, nothing is quite predicable, in Thomas Riccio's collage of American Images. It manipulates American mythic figures--Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy--and a garbage mountain of other cutout images from the American scene to paint a hallucinatory but precise picture of corruption. It starts with workshop of rock and roll idols, ends with the worship of Christ-as-a-TV-preacher, and along the way it builds momentum as a hammering moral indictment of the American way.
What Riccio brings to his circus, along with the pounding energy of the presentation, gives the production a manic power and sweep. It's like watching Niagara flow upside down. Streaks and blips of phoniness perversion, and illusion wheel, circle, and blend together to create a Dantesque vision of a gone world.
As shot-caller for the Dallas-based arts group Dead White Zombies, Riccio puts the pedagogy of mythology and anthropology right on the line of Dallas culture, blending the politics, pastimes and social structures of the city with the cosmology of classical paganism (Homer, Virgil, Ovid) and a variety of shamanistic traditions, both ancient and contemporary.