Last Saturday was the annual performance art extravaganza, Perform Chinatown. It was a long evening, 4pm-midnight. We stayed most of the time, but didn’t see everything, and was I disappointed to miss Karen Finley at Coagula Curatorial, but here’s some highlights of what we did see…
It all started with the amazing one-man band, Keith Walsh Experience. He played for close to two hours, non-stop. Such energy and stamina.
Allie Pohl traced participants bodies onto a large scroll as an index of “The Ideal Woman.”
After being shaved and fit into a straight jacket, Kent Anderson Butler was dragged by his barber up and down Chung King Road in a little red wagon. I’m often intrigued by what Kent will put his body through for the sake of art.
While inside Happy Lion/Mirror Gallery, Jocelyn Foyce led participants in a meditation over rice and black and white images inspired by her travels in Tibet.
As darkness fell, Tiffany Trenda walked through the growing crowd wearing a skin tight suit that compelled onlookers to pull out their smart phones to scan her with their QR Readers. I’ve never gotten those apps to work properly, so didn’t try it, but according to her website the scanned codes link to “information on the effect of man-made materials have on the human body.”
And we both enjoyed listening to tones resonate through our forearms, as James Kennard of the Elbow Orchestra held tuning forks to our elbows, also at Perform Wow!
But the most compelling and moving piece was Elizabeth Leister‘s Disapeared. Jeremy and I walked into POVevolving just as she was setting up for her second drawing in an ongoing performance in which she traces the video projection of previously drawn portraits, played in reverse motion so that it appears as if the pencil is erasing the image of a woman. She did this three times, each with a different drawn portrait based on Los Angeles County missing person photos. You’d only know this if you stuck around long enough to hear the video’s voice over recite the missing person’s “vital statistics,” or if you read her project description. Haunting to say the least.
To see more we’ll all have to keep a look out for the video commentary by Dave Burns and Paige Wery, of Artillery.
Last weekend I joined the newly formed collective, The People’s Microphony Camerata, founded by Elana Mann and Juliana Snapper. I signed up because of they said we would perform scores inspired by the People’s Mic and the Occupy Movement, which has fascinated me since I first experienced it during the Brooklyn Bridge arrests. However, I was a bit hesitant when I realized they considered it to be a Choir. To the dismay of my Grandma, Edith, who sang at the Stage Door Canteen in NYC, I don’t sing (at least not in public).
But… I stuck with my commitment and half way through our second day of rehearsing and workshopping scores I realized I was enjoying myself and the sound of our collective voices. I was singing.
You can hear the results of our first recording session as it will be played on Sunday as part of Radio Break, “an exhibition on the air, presenting twelve artworks in locations throughout Los Angeles conveyed through low-power radio transmissions during two weeks and live events held on two consecutive weekends,” curated by students in the USC MA Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program.
Radio Break started last weekend, so you may have missed some of it, but here’s this weekend’s schedule:
SUNDAY, APRIL 22nd
All events at 6020 WILSHIRE (The new ForYourArt space), 6020 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
2–6pm Richard T. Walker intervenes into Los Angeles’s visual and radiophonic space, telling the absurdist tale of one man’s quest to find the words to speak when language no longer suffices in between distance and a mountain.
Tune into the concerns of Angelenos affected by the financial crisis by listening to the carols of the People’s Microphony Camerata (Cynthia Aaron, Karen Atkinson, Vivian Bang, Andrew Choate, Judith Dancoff, Rachel Finkelstein, Penny Folger, Sascha Goldhor, Michele Jaquis, Allison Johnson, Elana Mann, Kimberly N, Alanna Simone, Juliana Snapper, Julie Tolentino, Annette Weisser and Becca Wilson).
6–9pm LIVE PERFORMANCE and RECEPTION David Schafer‘s Cage Mix: Static Age reconceives a selection of John Cage’s compositions through live electronic and processed improvisation performed alongside an accompanying installation. A reception will follow Schafer’s performance.
A listening station with all projects will be at 6020 Wilshire through April 27th.
So I still haven’t had a chance to reflect on my time at ICI, mostly because I’ve been getting ready for my next exhibition: Debating Through the Arts. The exhibition is organized by Jerri Allyn and Inez Bush and opens this Saturday (6-10pm) at 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica. Come see my multimedia installation, i Scream LA! made in collaboration with Beth Peterson and Trinidad Ruiz. It will evolve all summer as we’ll be collecting videotaped interviews with residents of LA’s diverse neighborhoods, in exchange for ice cream. Let us know if you want to be interviewed by our puppets. Come on… everyone loves puppets and wants ice cream in the summer!
I just finished a 2 week recording project with balloon artist Addi Somekh. He has traveled the world making balloon hats for people of all walks of life, and recently starred in the reality TV show The Unpoppables. The purpose of this project was to develop the balloon drum set as a viable, recordable musical instrument, and to create a collection of balloon drum loops and samples. We had several drummers come to play it and offer their input as the kit took a new shape and sound of it’s own. The clip here features George Bernardo playing the balloon drum set as I accompany him with an original composition on piano and synth.
Between Feb. 2009 and Dec. 2010, I spoke to residents about what they hoped/feared might happen in the future; collected official governmental and city plans; and think-tank vision statements– and created a history of the future based on what I found.
I’ll be presenting this information at the Nave Gallery this Saturday and Sunday. There will be a timeline that you can read– and add predictions to. At the reception, there will be a short talk by futurist Seth Itzkan; theremin music by Adam Schutzman; and something I call “Future-aoke”– where people can step up on the mic for a few minutes, and share their thoughts on the future. Gallery website:
For the past few months I have been learning how to say “I have to tell you something, but I don’t know how,” in several languages as an ongoing performance/video/installation project. This endeavor is proving to be both challenging and rewarding. I think there is inherent failure in it, but I recite the sentences in my head frequently to keep what I’ve learned, and will take Erika’s suggestion to make an MP3 of all my instructors/collaborators saying the sentence so that I can listen to the correct pronunciations and intonations on a loop while driving. I can now say this sentence in Japanese, German, Thai, Armenian, Korean, and Spanish – although with a slight American accent. I also learned Farsi and Hebrew, but have yet to memorize them. So far even with two years of Hebrew School under my belt (although 26 years ago) that was the hardest, and perhaps a bit disappointing to realize how little I retained from Hebrew School. Or perhaps just that originally learning Hebrew with a NY accent made perfecting the Isreali accent much more difficult than I anticipated. Gil was a patient, yet serious teacher, working with me to get the sounds right, but after over an hour (and a change of videotape) we resigned to the fact that certain sounds cannot be made by everyone. Video stills from each lesson with be added as the project continues… email me if you have a language to teach and want to participate.
video still from Japanese lesson with Takeshi Kobayashi
video still from German lesson with Rashad Navidi
video still from Thai lesson with Hataya Tubtim
video still from Armenian lesson with Maria Khachatryan
video still from Korean Lesson with John Kim
video still from Farsi lesson with Solange Petrosspour
video still from Spanish Lesson with Erika E. Reynoso
For all of you out there that didn’t get to see the play Meditations: Eva Hesse that Michele and I worked on this past fall (doing video design and set design, respectively) – I just finished editing a short video that documents the performance at Highways Performance Space. The video also features the director David Watkins, the actress Heather Tyler (who played “Dying Eva”), and the playwright Marcie Begleiter discussing the work and the process in making it.
When the official flyer from MOCA cautions that the use of earplugs is strongly recommended, you know something other than a bit of classical music in the park will be going on. This was the situation last weekend down in Los Angeles’ State Historic Park (screw that, I am still calling it The Cornfields) when MOCA organized a re-creation of Iannis Xenakis’ Persepolis, a multi-track experimental music/space/sound composition.
I rolled up late, because I did actually turn back to pick up my earplugs (musicians gotta protect the ears you know), but couldn’t find them. The place was pretty crowded when I got there, and the sun had recently set, so light was fading fast. Walking toward the park, you could hear a low thrum, and I followed the rest of the stragglers into the park. As luck, and most likely insurance riders, would have it, ear plugs were being handed out at a MOCA info table. I plugged em in, and walked into a landscape made of noise, grass, and crowd.
I am not sure I have fully digested this thing yet, but I can say for now that it was an experience, a physical, visual and audio experience on a pretty intense level. I tested pulling the earplugs out from time to time, as I was worried I was missing the highs of the sound. And it was loud, so very very loud. Sometimes bearable and OK, but without warning, a super high pitch would drift in and threaten permanent damage.
I wandered around, as the work sprawls over the park, with speakers on posts set up regularly spaced around the area. There were searchlights and fog machines, at first seemingly doing their own thing, but later working in concert with the sound to create a frenzy of stimuli.
Later there were pillars of fire. There was subtle sound in the giant noise, lots to keep you interested, and enough change to hold me there through the entire duration. It evolved, peaking with the sweeping searchlights, then backing off just a bit to hold for a while before it all simply stopped.
These videos are nothing like it, of course. But, they give you a glimpse into the idea. Sadly, I didn’t catch a shot of the Gold Line train cutting across the edge of the field right behind the huge crowd – which was very surreal.
Well, this is a very disjointed post, but like I say, I have not digested it yet. May write more on it later when I have thought about what exactly made this so spectacular. Or maybe I will keep that to myself.
This one is a sketch of part of the set, working out the layout of the art-wall/incomplete installation that forms part of the back wall of the set. In the foreground was a model of the art-wall, which was been reconfigured as more of a material sample piece instead of an actual model.
Below are a few photos from rehearsal last week:
Shanti Reinhardt and Barry Saltzman discuss.
Tuddy Monteanu documents Eva.
Bianca Gisselle and Heather Tyler
And some images of the rolling rear projection wall, with a paper screen for testing. We will be putting up the real screen in the space. The shape is a right triangular prism with the top sliced off diagonally – if that makes any sense to you. It came out great, and basically gives us a compact, rolling, moving image. The video projector mount (not shown there) attaches to the outside edge of the vertical post on the back, and drops the image perfectly onto the screen without the need for zooming or any adjustment. Next hurdle – running wires to it from the booth above.