Just Say the Word

What is "Sussudio"?

Is it: (a) the title of a Phil Collins song; (b) the title of an Ol' Dirty Bastard song; (c) the title of a philosophical pop culture performance-art exhibition; or (d) all of the above?

The correct answer is (d). Collins first used the word in his 1985 hit "Sussudio," and Ol' Dirty Bastard, may he rest in peace, borrowed the song's chorus for his own version on the album Urban Renewal: A Tribute to Phil Collins. And artists Ryan McNamara and Mary Kay Zeeb will, uh, perform an exhibition called "Sussudio" at Modified Arts, on Tuesday, December 28, marking the third public installment in an ongoing piece that blends tee-shirt art, excessive body hair, tape measures, and grocery lists of food to probe the meaning and nature of "Sussudio" as a word.

"The audience is always part of helping us define it," Zeeb says. "It seems like with this idea, the word is something we use to reveal something about ourselves. Or we use it to hide something about ourselves."

"During our first exploration into what the song means, we discovered that when Collins was writing the song, he couldn't think of a chorus, so he put the word 'Sussudio' in there and planned to replace it later with a non-gibberish word," McNamara says on a three-way phone call from New York. "So we said 'Sussudio' is that thing you put there to replace the thing you're searching for."

Zeeb's research for the current installment involved "playing poker with tender men," and McNamara says he's been having sleepovers with former president Jimmy Carter.

And what does Phil Collins have to say about all this? McNamara and Zeeb have exchanged ideas with Collins, but they're mum about his revelations until the night of the performance, so show up for "Sussudio" secrets.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea