Archive for October, 2010

Dor Guez at KW Berlin

October 24, 2010

Berlin, October 24, 2010

Dor Guez’s Al-Lydd is a series of video interviews presented at KW Berlin and curated by Susanne Pfeffer. In this work the artist interviews several residents of Lod, formerly known by its Arab name Al-Lydd, a small town in Israel. These are Christian Arabs, who identify themselves as “a minority in a minority”. They are citizens of Israel, who despite their upbringing in Jewish schools and surrounded by Israel culture suffer the burden of anti-Arab racism. This comes to light in the artist’s interview of a young woman, Samira who is employed as a waitress, in one of Lod’s restaurants. She communicates the story of having been called into her boss’s office because of clients who complained at having an Arab woman serve their table. The boss asks her if she can please change her name, written on the client’s check. After her refusal the boss makes it clear that the refusal will result in her losing her job, so a compromise is reached where she will employ the name Mira on the check, a name which aids in concealing her Arab identity. Another work July 13, 2009 is an elder resident’s recollections on the occupation of Lod by Israeli para-militants on 13 July, 1948. At this time, the remaining Palestinian residents, a thousand in number, take refuge in the local church. This building, which is later surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by the Israeli military becomes the center of Lod’s Palestinian ghetto. The stories are simple, but very clearly outline the conflicted identity of these individuals, Christian-Arab-Israeli-Palestinian they belong to all, and yet also to no one’s camp. For the Palestinians they are not Muslin, and in that lesser Arabs. For the Israeli’s they are Palestinian, and therefore suspect. This work is a chilling view of the mechanics of racism in what is called the Middle East’s only Democracy.


Exhibitions: Helsinki, Finland

October 16, 2010

Helsinki, October 16, 2010

Nice time for Finland. The exhibitions here in Helsinki have been remarkable. At Kiasma two really powerful works from 2 female artists one from Estonia, Kristina Norman the other Swiss, Sasha Huber. Both works address ethnic and racial issues in conflict with accepted social “norms”. A timely subject indeed. After War by Kristina Norman recreates a Soviet War memorial removed from Tallinn by the majority Estonian government resulting in outrage and days of rioting among the Russian minority. The act is a call for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Sasha Huber’s work Rentyhorn makes a symbolic trek (via helicopter) to the summit of Agassi Horn in Switzerland to rename the mountain Renty Horn, named after the African woman photographed by Agassiz to propagate his racist agenda.

One can top this visit off with the South African exhibition at the City Museum of Helsinki that goes far beyond William Kentridge, who is included. There is an amazing installation by Jane Alexander who’s work The Promised Land of Security Services, portrays Egyptian-like anthropomorphic figures in shamanic attire walking inside a barbed wire enclosure filled with discarded red rubber gloves, and confiscated scythes, machetes. Then works in photography by Pieter Hugo documenting a wandering band of animal trainers, with Hyennas and baboons in tow from Nigeria. Sculptures and photos from Nandipha Mntambo provoking reflections on European mythology with African shamanic gestures. Mikhael Subotzky’s photo documentation of a High Security prison in Cape Town, and Zanele Muholi’s photo self-portraiture in Massa ja Minah in the servant roles she takes from her mother’s experience.

Clearly, good things are happening here.

Pamela Z: Baggage Allowance By Ron Rocco

October 5, 2010

Sept. 16 – Sept. 18, 2010 at The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street, New York, NY

composer, performer, concepts, video & sound design:
Pamela Z

produced in collaboration with:
Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)

lighting designer / visual director:
Elaine Buckholtz

fabrication & technical design:
Bill Ballou

interactive video programming:
Pamela Z, Ian Winters, Carole Kim

Sade Huron

Pamela Z, a San Francisco-based performance artist, is an adventurer. As an artist on the move she has spent a significant amount of time traveling the world. A by-product of those comings and goings are long waits in the traveler’s lounge, and near baggage carousel’s. Clearly for Pamela this time was well spent. This is a masterful presentation in which she ruminates on the things we all carry with us. Her initial entry on stage, in a costume which brings to mind words like travel worn, belies the brilliance of her solo performance. This is a weaving of voice, interactive electronics, a train of hand baggage and video, which navigates the viewer through a journey of reflection, questioning what we choose to bring with us as we subject ourselves to the many ordeals of modern-day travel.

Throughout this work Pamela Z skillfully orchestrates midi sampling devices with simple hand gestures, producing an electronic score, processed live, mixed with operatic flourishes, and vocals reminiscent of Merridth Monk. The theme of baggage becomes her lens through which issues of security both national and personal; memory, melancholy and homelessness are viewed. Pamela Z has the skill to balance these narratives with subtle application through the use of her technology, which fills the stage with a clean well designed look. She is clearly a visual artist, musician and show woman. This adventure is one that you may want to take, before packing your bags for the next screening by the TSA.

Noemie Lafrance and Sens Production MELT

October 2, 2010

New York, August /September, 2010

MELT under the Manhattan Bridge

Choreography Noémie Lafrance
Score Erin McGoningle
Dancers Elizabeth Wilkinson, Mare Hieronimus, Teresa Kochis, Celeste Hastings, Ori Lenkinski, Adi Kfir, Meghan Merril, Marcy Schlissel, Sarah Donnelly

Beeswax Costumes Noémie Lafrance
Technical Director Spencer Evans
Lighting Design Thomas Dunn
Producer Natalie Galazka

August 18-22 & 25-29, Sept 2-5 & 9-12, 2010
Under the Manhattan Bridge at the Salt Pile located at:
74 Pike Slip near South Street, NYC

I was there when Noemie Lafrance first presented the concepts for Melt as a work in progress at the Black and White Gallery in Brooklyn in 2003. The idea was compelling enough that I kept in touch with the choreographer, and stayed on the mailing list as her work progressed. This presentation presented August and Sept of 2010 is the completed version of that earlier work. Noemie, as a choreographer has a keen sense, when it comes to finding a location for her work. The Salt Pit is an interesting enough site, with its other worldly appearance, but also staging the presentation under the structure of the Manhattan Bridge engages a whole different scope and scale of urban landscape. The roar of the bridge traffic is almost deafening. While waiting for the event, one wonders how a production can be staged in such cacophony?

What is remarkable is that not only does MELT survive this urban onslaught, but it weaves the tempest into the production with the genius of Erin McGoningle’s ambient sound track. To say the costume design and the staging of the work is remarkable is an understatement. Ms. Lafrance has a sculptor’s eye for the spectacle. The work is thus compelling. The dancers strapped in their perch fixed to a 15 foot wall, work within a limited palate of movement to leave a signature of their activity upon the stone surface, this imprint the result of their ever melting bee’s wax and lanolin costumes. The scene is straight out of Dante at times, with the dancers wreathing movements and gestures reminiscent of that author’s depictions of hell. What could be more hell like than to be strapped to a hot stone wall under the bowels of the Manhattan Bridge? Yet there is euphoria in this work. There is a liberation of spirit. As the program introduction states, “Eight dancers….melting until their souls escape their ephemeral bodies and disintegrate into light.”

Although some dance critics found it hard to sustain themselves on such a limited palate of movement, I believe Ms. Lafrance is a force to be reckoned with. She is a choreographer with the sensibility of a visual artist which makes her work captivating and imaginative. Her work is something to keep an eye on.