Former Art(ist) On the Verger, Pramila Vasudevan (artistic director of Aniccha Arts,choreographer and dancer) has put together a stellar crew to work on In Habit.
Piotr Szyhalski (director); Jasmine Kar Tang (dramaturg and dancer); Caleb Coppock (visualmedia designer); John Keston (musician); Benjamin Reed(installation designer); David Steinman (technology designer); Clare Brauch(costume designer); Cornelius Coons and Annie Wang (graphic designers);Sarah Hoover Beck-Esmay (dance collaborator); Dustin Maxwell (dance collaborator); and Chitra Vairavan (dance collaborator).
And the rewards, beyond supporting such an amazing cast, include a personal dance class, custom screensaver, limited edition poster and more.
Mississippi Megalops is a floating Chautauqua featuring performances & presentations of history, art & science aboard an authentic paddle steamer riverboat. Tickets are free, but limited! To pre-book a ticket visit bit.ly/megalopstickets.
The BodyCartography Project seeks houseboat for a performance commissioned by Northern Spark Festival. It is an intimate performance work for small audiences in a boat that travels on the Mississippi from Boom Island through the lock and dam and back again. Looking for a boat with character, electricity and a working toilet. Size of boat from 30-60 feet. The boat is needed for roughly a week, end of May until June 4th, with performances happening on one night only. We are looking for donation but can pay a rental fee if necessary.
O+A’sRequiem for fossil fuels was a transcendent performance in St. Joseph’s Cathedral at the 01SJ Biennial in San Jose.
“At the intersection of four virtuosic human voices and the fossil-fueled din of helicopters, jets, traffic, busses, horns, train wheels, and sirens erupts a composition that pours gasoline on Dante’s Inferno. Requiem for fossil fuels, written and performed by O+A (Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger) with four singers and an 8-channel ‘Orchestra of Cities,” is a unique setting of the Requiem Mass offered to a world struggling to reconcile its utter dependence on fossil fuels with the coming end of oil, coal, and peat.”
In November, O+A again performed Requiem at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, in New York, and the concert will be broadcast Thursday evening, December 2, as part of WNYC’s New Sounds series. Don’t miss it. Below is a mini-preview.
Had a great time last night at the fundraiser for Public Art Saint Paul, which featured “Public Art the Musical” (pdf). The musical was a true community effort, directed by PASP staffers Ashley Hanson and Nic Hager with star turns by PASP President Christine Podas-Larson kicking things off with a little soft shoe; Allen Lovejoy, Principal Planner at City of St. Paul; retired senior partner at Faegre & Benson, Michael Murphy; spoken workd artist Karyssa Jackson; University Avenue Project maestro Wing Young Huie; Brady Lorenzen, a student at Perpich Center for Arts Eduction; and a host of others. It was entirely fun with a clever script by Tom Eggum, Hager, Hanson, and Marcus Young that blended inside-the-capital St. Paul jokes with popular Broadway tunes. The starrest turn, for my money, was by Marcus Young, the Wizard of Oz “Non-Prophet,” who brought it all home, so to speak.
The Egg and the Sperm are a matter of prosaic beginnings. They meet in passion, lust, happiness, joy; in individuals coupled to each other. They can meet through violence; they can be frozen and shipped like cargo. Are they commodities sans soul? The conversation rapidly evokes larger questions. “Manhood’s repose of If,” as Herman Melville says in Moby Dick, is shaken by the subject. Adding to this existential ambivalence, the egg and sperm reference not only life but after life; Marilynne Robinson writes in Gilead: “We participate in Being without Remainder.” T.S. Eliot reminds us that the egg and sperm’s passage, the passage of a journey, is also the passage of time: “To arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” (Little Gidding)
Janaki Ranpura’sEgg and Sperm Ride explores the riddle of egg and sperm in a multi-stage performance art work composed of: a cross-country ride by Ranpura in a costumed Egg bicycle; a series of bicycle ballets in the street starring an Egg tricycle and a number of Sperm bicycle riders; and a series of exhibitions of the Egg tricycle and the glowing helmets of the Sperm riders designed by her.
Whether on the cross-country Egg bicycle, or the performance ballet Egg tricycle, Ranpura rides the Egg, and is the mind of the Egg. From this vantage, she has choreographed experiences–both for street audiences and for audience-participating Sperm–that give physical voice to the ruminative questions of our essence. She does so with a dose of folly, joy, and celebration that make each performance dynamic in addition to its more ponderous questions.
In San Jose’s 01SJ Green Prix parade, Ranpura choreographed a bicycle ballet, called “the Wiggle,” for approximately ten cast members. Ranpura was the Egg, and the rest of the well-chosen cast– doctors, lawyers, radio personalities, and actors–were Sperm on bikes. The ballet began with the simple premise that the Egg was to be chased. Ranpura, as the Egg itself, raced ahead of the Sperm. Meanwhile, a gatekeeper corralled the Sperm, taunting them about their lusty itch and their almost certain fate. The Sperm, bursting with life, wrestled among each other (elbows thrown, hair pulled, wedgies given) for position. With a stock car-race flourish, the gatekeeper threw a flag and released the Sperm to their destiny. Each Sperm was dressed in black, with red lipstick, on a bicycle and wearing Ranpura’s electroluminescent, whimsical Sperm helmets with tails that bucked and curved during the chase.
More Sperm circling
In time, the Egg was captured and forced to stop. The Sperm swarmed about the Egg clockwise, and the Egg spun on its axis the other way in a bicycling pas de deux, the Sperm moving as one mass of blurred mayhem about the Egg’s giant, swirling solemnity. Three times around the Egg the Sperm went until, with a vigorous flourish and the ring of a bicycle bell, the Egg shook on its wheels, the Egg’s bamboo reeds rustled with conviction, and the Egg escaped with Ranpura inside. The stage was re-set, and the ballet performed multiple times over the course of the parade route.
Author as Sperm
I participated in the parade as a Sperm and chased after the elusive Egg, though in life Janaki has long been one of my closest friends and confidantes. Knowing her for so long, I could not help but notice that the Egg escapes in her dance, every time, and wonder what significance that might have. For though the Egg appears as an impenetrable eggish bamboo mass, there is a slippery, small entry in the back through which a Sperm might easily pass. The Sperm might find itself inside the Egg with Ranpura, together in that vulnerable space, the former fortress now a prison, or a home. When Ranpura says the Egg and Sperm Ride is about love, I can’t help but think that the physical manifestation of her question is some Sperm slipping its way, unexpectedly, into her Egg, and the moment of recognition she might have at suddenly having company.
In practice, Ranpura has let plenty of people inside her Egg. While displaying it in an exposition hall before the parade, or on the street after the parade, a ride in the Egg was a constant wish of children and adults alike. One passerby told Ranpura the dance would be a good abstinence education tool, which is one way to think of it, though the ready access to the Egg, upon close inspection, appears to send an inconclusive message. Rather, I believe Ranpura’s ballet evokes something that has dogged her for a long time: the nature of freedom and its quest. It is ironic, then, that Ranpura would take on this role as an Egg, when it is the Sperm who are notorious for their travels. Don’t they tell us, it is always the sperm swimming and the egg standing still? Not so in this piece by Ranpura.
Both versions of the Egg bike, cross-country (right) and San Jose Green Prix (left)
The other component of the artwork was a planned ride on a recumbent Egg bike from Minneapolis, Minnesota–where Ranpura currently resides–to San Jose, California, which was the site of the parade. Ranpura set forth on July 8, 2010, for the lonely journey but also posted to a blog about her thoughts as she traveled. Nine days in, Ranpura’s Egg bike was hit by a truck on a remote Nebraska byway. She made it to Denver and re-routed.
The Egg ride, like the Wiggle, evokes Ranpura’s inversion of what is Sperm and what is Egg, and evokes even further questions of her own wanderlust, perseverance, skills transcending gender roles, and her tireless heeding of the road that a generation ago was the province mostly of Kerouac and men who wanted to give it all up and live rough, if only to have said they lived. But Ranpura’s wanderlust–an Ohio native, she studied at Yale and in performance art schools in Paris and California and has performed throughout the world since–has never seemed to be about escape so much as learning. The Egg and Sperm Ride, gendered as it is, gives the Egg the chance to hold the handlebars, to choose the route, to be both the dancer and the dance. More than a feminist Egg, more than an Egg gone Sperm, Ranpura’s Egg breaks free of biology, free of convention, and forces us to grapple with what we can make of such an Egg that does not wait, but itself is a traveler in a digital age where distance is not always as it appears.
Stephen R. Miller is an attorney and writer living in San Francisco, California.
As the first anthology to specifically examine dance in non-traditional performance spaces, this title explores the work that choreographers create for alternative sites and examines the basis for their creative choices. Editors Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik (professors of dance at the University of Calgary and Western Michigan University, respectively) offer a combination of interviews with and essays by some of the most prominent and influential practitioners of site-specific dance, such as Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood, Stephan Koplowitz, Heidi Duckler, Ann Carlson, Eiko Otake, and Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad of the BodyCartography Project. Site Dance is a significant and timely contribution to the public art canon–a must-read for dancers, choreographers, audiences, and public art administrators alike!
Blast Theory, RiderSpoke at Ars Electronica. Photo: Bruce Charlesworth
A highlight of the final days of Ars Electronica was Rider Spoke, a project by the UK-based collective Blast Theory. Mixing interactive media, installation, live performance, gaming and digital broadcasting, Blast Theory is perhaps best known for Kidnap, in which the winners of a lottery were abducted and held in a secret location for 48 hours. Rider Spoke extends the idea of the group’s search games Can You See Me Now?and Uncle Roy All Around You by asking each participant to ride a bicycle throughout a city after dark, with earphones and a handheld computer mounted on the handlebars.
I struck out away from the start point in the Hauptplatz and, as the sun was setting, pushed up a steep hill overlooking the Danube. While I cycled, melancholic music played and an earnest female voice asked me to reflect on a personal moment in my life and to find a unique “hiding place” where I could record a private response.
The computer screen functions as a positioning device that identifies available hiding places. It also alerts you to nearby source locations of recorded answers by other cyclists. These answers can only be heard on the spot where they were recorded, connecting you to the very recent reflections of anonymous participants. My time on the bike was limited to about an hour — probably due to the battery life of the device — and I came away wanting to be asked more questions and to explore more of the city. Rider Spoke allows for an engagement with the particular context of a city in potentially deep conceptual and emotional ways. My only critique of the system is that it did not pair the listener’s native language with the reflections of other participants speaking the same language.
I can’t claim to have seen everything performative at the Festival, but did see most of the Pursuit of the Unheard program, comprised of performances by the Prix Ars Electronica Digital Musics prizewinners. NABAZ’MOB by Antoine Schmitt and Jean-Jacques Birga is an opera composed for 100 Wi-Fi equipped plastic bunnies that can be programmed to flash colored lights in their bellies, make twinkly music and swivel their ears. The music and choreography, transmitted via Wi-Fi and founded on repetition and time delay, appeared to be controlled by both the artists and the individual and collective rabbits. An earlier version on video of NABAZ’MOB can be seen here:
Other standouts were Tristan Perich’sActive Field for ten violins and ten-channel 1-bit music, performed by Perich and members of the Bruckner Orchester Linz and digitally-created, curtain-like visuals by Kenneth Huff accompanying Alan Hovhaness’ Lousadzak (Coming of Light).Bill Fontana’sSpeeds of Time, a deconstruction of the sounds of Big Ben, was heard outdoors at Bruckner House (also as an installation across the river in the Pfarrkirche Urfahr). This arresting piece is a 12-hour multi-track recording made of a sound sculpture installed at Westminster, which derived from sensors and microphones attached to the clockwork mechanism and near the bells. A recording of Speeds of Time can be heard here.
Flut Fish at Ars Electronica. Photo: Bruce Charlesworth
FLUT(Flood), mentioned in an earlier post, happened on September 5. The lead-in to the main performance was Die Prophezeiung (The Prophesy), during which performers and volunteers puppeted a seemingly endless array of animals made of white upholstery foam. For several hours in the afternoon, everything from snails to T-rexes milled through huge crowds in the Hauptplatz and nearby streets. The puppets were meticulously observed and crafted for shape and movement, and were entertaining to watch. The evening performance, Die Arche (The Ark), took place along the banks of the Danube. This part of FLUT was a mishmash of fireworks, browbeating orchestral music, declamatory videos, floating houses and icebergs. I couldn’t get into it.
Hiroshi Ishiguro, Geminoid H1-1 at Ars Electronica. Photo: Bruce Charlesworth
Finally, I went to a demonstration of Geminoid HI-1 at the Ars Electronica Center. Hiroshi Ishiguro talked a bit about his creation, a sour-faced robot replica of himself that he uses to remotely give lectures in his stead at the University of Osaka. As Ishiguro went upstairs to sit at the control console, several of us in the small audience moved our chairs close to the table opposite Geminoid, in order to ask questions. Once activated, the robot looked around, its mouth opening and closing like a distressed fish. When someone observed that its rather intense facial expressions made it seem a bit frightening, the robot (Ishiguro on microphone) seemed surprised and a bit hurt. Hard questioning of Ishiguro’s goal to imitate human form and behavior were dodged, as was one query about a romantic scenario between two controllers of opposite-sex Geminoids.