In "Underbelly," Seattle's Degenerate Art Ensemble and Olson Kundig Architects offer a guided tour through the "subterranean underpinnings" of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, in performances Oct. 5-6, 2012.

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For anyone wanting to explore the “subterranean underpinnings” of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE) and Olson Kundig Architects will serve as tour guides this weekend. “Underbelly,” their new collaborative project, was commissioned as part of “The Next 50,” Seattle Center’s celebration of the fair’s 50th anniversary, and this multimedia extravaganza promises to be a special brand of retro-futuristic.

DAE artistic director (and 2012 Guggenheim fellow) Haruko Nishimura will embody “three misunderstood and controversial female personalities from the Northwest’s past,” including Gracie Hansen, the cheerfully blowzy hostess for the burlesque offerings at the 1962 fair. Nishimura’s collaborators include DAE music director Joshua Kohl, Olson Kundig’s Alan Maskin (set design), video artist Leo Mayberry and “lighting installation duo” Ben Zamora and Etta Lilienthal.

The free performances are full, but there will be a waiting list open to those who turn up 30 minutes before showtime at 10 p.m. Friday and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Attendees will meet at the International Fountain, and be led who knows where (

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer