Tag Archives: art

‘Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films’ Royce Hall Friday October 25, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes. 

“There’s so many different angles you can come at Warhol,” Eleanor Friedberger recently said in a Billboard Magazine interview about Exposed. “He never really goes out of style.”

Indeed, he does not. You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist, or pop culture enthusiast, or possibly any living human who doesn’t harbor some kind of frame of reference or relationship to the life and work of Andy Warhol. His fame has extended well beyond his prescient and oft-quoted “15 minutes” observation.

Part of the impetus around the creation of tonight’s program is a celebration of the institution that has done so much to keep Andy Warhol’s iconic legacy at the forefront of the artistic and pop culture world. This year The Andy Warhol Museum marks its 20th anniversary. We were incredibly proud to partner with them and with BAM on the commissioning of “Exposed.”

Tonight is one of just three live-performances scheduled for this exceptional program, a marriage of sound and celluloid, brought together to create a wholly new installation that we, as the audience will become the permanent caretakers of.

And tonight yeilds another moment in which we can sustain our own relationship to Andy Warhol’s work, aided by five innovative composer-performers hand-picked by guest music curator Dean Wareham.

Dean is no stranger to working with Warhol visuals, having created, along with his artistic and life partner Britta Phillips, the score to “13 Most Beautiful,” a song cycle composed and performed to a selection of Warhol’s famous screen tests.

The films you will see tonight were discovered in a Pennsylvania warehouse just as Wareham was plotting with the Museum on a potential follow up to “13 Most Beautiful. “They are more personal and less stylized than Warhol’s screen tests, more like home movies, describes Ben Harrison, curator of performing arts at the Warhol Museum.

We think that’s part of the great appeal. Warhol has captured a unique series of moments in time, and we have the good fortune to be able to come together to view and experience them in yet another ephemeral moment in the art of performance.

That never really goes out of style either.

Thanks for being here.

Behind “Exposed”

Tonight we play host to a truly unique moment in the art of performance.”Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films” is a marriage of sound and celluloid that has been a long time in the making, and its arrival to the Royce stage tomorrow marks one of those especially gratifying moments as a curator, when the dreaming of a few coalesces into an extraordinary experience for many.

A couple of years ago I was approached by a great colleague, Ben Harrison, at the Andy Warhol Museum about co-commissioning this project (then untitled, and then just a concept). They had located a number of Warhol’s short films in their collection that were related to the “Screen Tests” he filmed quite regularly, but were of a somewhat different nature. More like a cinema portrait in a way than a “screen test” – but that is a nuance I have likely invented as a way to officially organize it in my own mind. (As one does.)

Ben had been involved in the development of the precursor to “Exposed,” which was called “13 Most Beautiful” – the cinema screen tests shot by Andy, which had Dean & Britta performing live in a concert setting. Dean Wareham and Britta composed the music and if I recall (this was 2006 I think),  were part of the creative force that conceived the idea to begin with. It toured extensively, and I saw it in Sydney years ago.

Wareham, this time around, wanted to broaden out the music collaborators, so for this project, he is both the curator/music director and also a composer/performer. I guess that is four roles rather than two!

What I loved hearing about, behind the scenes as the project started to take shape, was the restoration process of the films themselves from the conservators at the Warhol museum, and their insights about the pieces of cinema along with the film curator.

Of course getting updates on which musicians were then engaged and what they were working on and how it was taking shape was also pretty exciting.

So, here we are, two years later – restored Warhol films, a massive amount of music and artistry that has come together for a three – city engagement after so much detailing and creative time has been spent behind the scenes.  I am sure the project will go on after it is performed in the ‘homes’ of the three organizations that committed early on to support the development time it needed, which include the Center, The Andy Warhol Museum and BAM.

As with anything connected to Warhol – everyone seems to have a story about “Andy” and along the way of this, I have heard many…..real and imagined….people are compelled to tell you about “the time when…..”

I swear, Andy Warhol has had dinner and drinks with people that were not even born during the Factory years – and that will probably be the case for decades to come.

Indeed, part of the impetus behind this work is to celebrate the 20-year history of The Andy Warhol Museum, which has done much to ensure that Andy’s memory and influence continues to loom large.

My story about Andy is tied to this moment in time, to  the preservation and presentation of these incredible lost films, the talented and varied music artists who are helping bring them to life for us.

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Art Speigelman and Phillip Johnston: WORDLESS! Oct. 15 2014

The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes

Very few humans are just one thing. We’re all a multi-hyphenate jumble of ideas, experiences, expectations, possibilities and curiosity. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Most artists exist in that hyphenate space…the place that simultaneously creates a pause and builds a bridge. Or, as Art Spiegelman himself might put it, using a hyphen to de-familiarize us with a pair of words, allowing us to see each one with fresh eyes.

That de-familiarization and re-familiarization is a constant underlying presence in the art of performance, giving us moments that inspire us to look at the world from a different perspective alongside moments that instigate deep and poignant memory of what we know (or thought we knew).

Tonight marks the first in a series of performances on our 2014-2015 season that straddle the medium of visual art, performance art and live music.

We’re very happy you’re here with us to welcome Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston, the live embodiment of a hyphenate creative experience, a co-mingling of ideas, experiences, expectations, possibilities and curiosity.

Part of WORDLESS! includes a new work from Art, a piece entitled “Shaping Thought.”

How do thoughts take shape?  What kind of shape do they take? How do we shape the thoughts of those around us? How have artists of the past shaped the thoughts and works of the artists of today? How do we connect to the shape of each other’s thoughts? Where and how do we build our own hyphens?

We are curious beings around here. We like these questions. We hope you like them too.  Feel free to ask them of us, of each other, often.

In the meantime, welcome to WORDLESS!

Poetic Thought for a New Season

We’ve been obsessed with poetry around here lately, on a mission to incorporate it into our lives more fully. As part of this ongoing exploration, last year we met Mary Ruefle, a master of erasure poetry who taught us this simple but profound practice of taking written words, marking some of them out and unveiling something wholly new.

There is a lot of poetry to be found in the upcoming season. Explore the 2014-2015 calendar up today on our website. And there will be much more to come from us in the next few months– a new website, and the official season brochure hits mailboxes in the next couple of days, keep an eye out.

We took a pause from the frenzy to sit down with some of that information and in the name of poetry, erase it.  If you’ve ever encountered our artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds, you know how eloquent and inspiring her words can be. Figuring they would make for prime poetic fodder, several staffers here took Kristy’s welcome letter from our season program guide, and turned it into an erasure project.

Here’s what we covered and uncovered.

We ‘re looking forward to everything we may unearth in the coming season.

 

ErasurePoems

Welcome to the 2014-2015 Season

By Jessica Wolf

 An impressive appetite

We love

We thrive

You celebrate and discover

 

Artists

Art Forms

Vision

Turn sound to light

Epic and mind-expanding

 

L.A. itself

A unique world

Synthesizes poetry

Remarkable

And deliriously strange

 

Through masterful hands

Every endeavor

In passion

And an unknown outcome

 

We help the work

Stand as connectors

Diverse, voracious, curious participants

 

Thank you

Artists

Audiences

A virtuous circle

Complex and ebullient

 

Art direct for UCLA

 

 

By Meryl Friedman

 

A City…

L.A.

Standing at the apex

Of delirious endeavor

 

Us

Connectors

Participants

In the complex collaboration!

 

 

By Theresa Willis Peters

 

There is clear evidence…

of routes to one another

 

We thrive, celebrate, discover

We continue

Emerging the vision

Over decades

 

Fans that make the world turn

 

Unseen time

Marks our work

Places and sensations

Poetry

Multifaceted and perfectly scaled

Standing, rediscovered

Deliriously strange

 

Each endeavor

A question

Pursuing an unknown present

Connectors between

A curious common cause

 

Our potential.

 

 

By Phinn Sriplyorung

 

In a city

We LOVE

Center for exploration

Artists

Collaborations

Relationships

Come together

 

Cultural omnivores

Exposed sound

A spotlight celebrates

A resounding, special, mind-expanding

Epic….

Collaboration

 

We are collaborating with L.A.

Our L.A.

An homage to fame

Standing at the apex of the avant-garde

The absurd

And strange

The life of our celebrated modern stage

 

A unique endeavor

In which artists come together in mutual passion

Cause and relevance

 

Entrust us

To be actively present

Us who work as connectors

Artists

Audiences

Supporters

Participants

Enhance the art-filled potential

Of our labor

On Dreams and Tightropes

The last few weeks of artists and programs that have entered our sphere have made me think about dreams and tightropes.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons

Mike Daisey, in a solo performance that was somehow softer, more-nostalgic and more inherently loving than I had originally anticipated, talked about not only the dreamscapes he inserted himself into– as a participating observer of Burning Man, his family’s obsession with Disney World and the passionate fervor of the people who originated the Occupy Wall—but also of his own sense of dreaming, the import that holds on his practice and career and they ways in which we can daily invent and reinvent the world together.

He ended his performance on the steps in front of Royce Hall, his booming voice echoing against the portico, the foggy drizzle of raindrops functioning as punctuation to his testament of the power of dreams, and hopes and imagination.

A few days later, as I watched decades-old footage of British miners, their faces—some grizzled, some wide-eyed and fresh—turned to the camera as they crawled into tiny box cars that led them beneath the earth. Listening to Johan Johannsson’s elegiac music of the Miner’s Hymns added to my sensation of wonder. I wondered what those men’s dreams were? And did those dreams include a life spent largely beneath the earth? What were their days above like? Were they happy? What would they think about being immortalized so many years later as part of a dreamscape created by music and film artists?

This weekend brings yet another dreamscape, an entre into a secret inner world of a percussionist. Schick Machine isn’t just a theater performance. It isn’t just a music performance. It is a shared moment of invention, a celebration of the tinkerer, the mad scientist, the creative explorer in us all.

I’ve also been thinking of tightropes. Theater legend Peter Brook uses the concept of the tightrope as a rehearsal technique, which he allowed his son Simon to document in a new film called (appropriately) The Tightrope.  He takes a seemingly simple idea—move with freedom, abandon and cleverness all while adhering to the idea that you are suspended above air on a two-inch surface.

According to a New York Times review of the film:

 The most important requirement is that they convey a sense of reality, as if they were genuinely suspended in the air, their feet hugging a thin cord. After a while, it becomes clear that the tightrope is also a metaphor, standing for the existential risk inherent in every serious instance of playing.

All art, invented by dreaming, through imagination and exploration, exists on a tightrope, a precipice of risk. Creators create in a landscape of unknown outcome.

We as an organization gladly and gratefully also walk this tightrope with every performance, every year as we carefully shape a season of what we believe will be deeply nourishing and meaningful experiences that will in turn instigate more dreaming, more reasons to step on a sliver of reality and look at the world, ourselves, our art, our relationship to art and artists from a new perspective.

Here’s to dreams and tightropes.

Kristy Edmunds: Catalyst in Residence

Recently, our artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds was named the first visiting scholar of the venerable Pew Center for Arts and Heritage in Philadelphia.

They very quickly realized what they had on their hands was more than a simple observer or caretaker, but also a person who will work tirelessly to understand a community and to affect change in it, all with a persistent focus and drive toward serving the art and artmakers whose sense of dreaming can remake the world.

She’s to be their “catalyst in residence” and we can’t think of a better term to describe her. She’s already made her first trip to the city of brotherly love in a fact-finding mission to begin to absorb the unique challenges and opportunities that exist there and that they share with our own organization and the overarching arts national and international arts community.

No small task. But, we know she’s up for it.

We’re proud that our boss will be the first to tackle this role for the Pew Center. Read more about Kristy’s ideas, her focus, her goals for this endeavor with this esteemed foundation, and how it will continue to inform our work in our own community.

Our Dreams Motivate Our Realities: A Conversation With Center Visiting Scholar Kristy Edmunds

Notes from Kristy: Thinking of Lou Reed

As I write this, I feel a combined sensation of a need to honor and a gut filled sorrow from the loss of a truly great artist, Lou Reed. Having received countless messages, I am expressing on behalf of many the acute sensation of longing which comes to the surface when we lose someone who inspired us deeply. Importantly also, is a shared depth of gratitude for his contributions in so many ways to our collective experience through his poetry, music and spirited fullness. I offer our support, condolence and sincere compassion to Laurie Anderson most especially, and the many extended friends and loved ones of Lou’s who are and will be grieving the most, while undoubtedly celebrating his incredible life in the days and months to come. Our hearts are with you each and every one.

At the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA we honor and acknowledge the life work of many esteemed artists, at various stages within their careers and within their evolving projects and ideas. It’s in times like this that I can be grateful to know that our mission and purpose matters to many artists the world over, while at the same time I cannot help but feel overwhelmed at how much more we need to be doing to change the culture that supports the incredible possibility of greatness within artists so that they can thrive, contrive and inspire us all with what it means to be truly human in the bigness of our tiny world together.

I am struck in the media and press coverage surrounding the news of Lou Reed’s passing, that there is a tremendous articulation of his impact and artistic output — credit authentically coming where credit is authentically due. Occasionally these testimonials are flavored with the mention of his work not garnering substantial “commercial success” (however deserved).

To which I can only really offer this — if the allure for artists to deeply excavate our human truths and give them form, was motivated by commercial success alone, the songlines of our heritage would be thin indeed. I ponder this duality often in my own role as an artistic director where I am requested to deftly straddle the active importance of putting a spotlight on the artistic integrity of artists and their art, with the pressure to deliver the somewhat more comforting nuances of assured familiarity and easily knowable outcomes on behalf of another kind of measurement of “success.”

Instead, because of artists like Lou Reed, like Laurie Anderson, like their contemporaries, and the great many artists I have the deep pleasure of working with, not only are our songlines profoundly strengthened, but so too are the tools we have to bolster our awareness of what it means to be “AWAKE” in the world while we inhabit it.

So in honor of Lou Reed, and in service to our communities of artists – I feel compelled to simply say…thank you. Thank you, Lou for expanding the fence line of the familiar and allowing the creative terrain for our souls to wander well, regardless of ever being in full possession of a known outcome at the outset of your own path.

—K

Notes from Kristy: Weathering Storms and the Art of Performance

One of the artists I have been most eager to introduce to you, the Los Angeles community, is Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin and her astonishing company of dancers.

And now, after much travail thanks to the U.S. visa process and subsequent travel delays, which have required us to rearrange our presentation of her work, Lucy Guerin and all of her company are here. To perform their work for the first time in Los Angeles. We are so proud to welcome them.

Lucy has always been keenly concentrated, artistically and through her choreography, with human relationships and how we encounter and affect each other. Her newest work, “Weather,” is an analysis of the conflicts within, and desires for intimacy – which widen into a meditation on human beings as a species and our relational patterns. Particularly explored in “Weather,” are the naturally occurring forces that exist outside of the realms of human control, and our direct impact upon the elemental properties that govern the natural world order.

In the advance planning to bring this remarkable work of choreography to open our 2013-2014 season of contemporary dance, there are two particular weather events occurring now that we could not have anticipated, then. But both, in their own distinctive way offer insight into elemental and poetic forces that are explored in the conceptual and choreographic structure of this work.

The first event, is the U.S. Government ‘shut down.’ Not to dwell, but it is an undeniable display of relational impact and the kind of political weather operating at present in the U.S. One that offers remarkable difficulty in providing elegant explanation around, as we welcome our Australian friends to Los Angeles for the first time. But so too in how we approach an explanation within ourselves, as we grapple with what this current political weather means within our collective citizenry.

Perhaps this work from Australia, in crossing the Pacific to premiere in the U.S., has arrived in exactly the right moment. However robust our current head winds might be.

The second, as was reported for all Angelenos this week, is the annual onset of the Santa Ana winds themselves, a local phenomenon – due to blow in and work upon our nerve endings, on the very evening of this performance.

Guerin’s work often draws from the physical world – elemental properties and naturally occurring events – to draw parallels for exploring the ethos of human relationships, as expressively framed through the art of dance and choreography. Read more about Lucy’s approach to the creation of “Weather,” in her director’s note for the program.

We have also harnessed our local community at UCLA to explore the themes of this performance through the lens of their scientific research. I hope you are able to arrive early on Friday night and enjoy our special pre-show event The Poetry of Nature: a discussion with graduate researchers from the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies.

We may not be able to predict the political winds–nor the weather, nor visa delays nor the traffic patterns during the gusts from the Santa Anas – but we can predict with certainty that the arts in all of their expressive potential, mastery and refined exploration, can and do bring us into direct proximity with the possibility of being astonished and enlivened by the human imagination.

Follow Kristy Edmunds on Instagram @kedmunds

From Lucy Guerin: On ‘Weather’

Editor’s Note: Lucy Guerin’s program note about “Weather” was so insightful, I wanted to give it a pulpit here and give everyone the chance to crawl deep inside the philosophy of this important work well before they arrive at the theater. We have weathered some challenges to get Lucy and her company here and we are extremely proud and excited for the performance on Friday. Enjoy.

The ideas underpinning this work stem from a desire to explore the possibilities of the human body’s connection to the elemental forces of weather. The range of this subject is limitless and universal, but for me, weather has a natural expression through dance and movement. It can be defined as the ‘state of the air’, and in this work, this invisible drama is made visible through movement and design. The cause and effect of moving air to create pressure systems informs the choreographic structure of the work, and defines the dynamics and performance of the movement material. Weather affects our mood, dress, food, activities, sports, conversations, architecture and our identity. Many works of art and literature have used the idea of a drought, a storm, the tropics or the icy outreaches of the poles to speak about the psychology of individuals, relationships or societies.

Making “Weather” has been for me a visceral immersion into choreographed movement and the body on stage. The motivation for the material has stemmed from the physical sensation and impact of the elements on the body, abstract representations of weather through maps and diagrams and our identification of human emotions with different weather phenomena. It occurred to me many times throughout the process that the human body shares with weather the qualities of moving air, water, mist and heat, and that the air we breathe in and out becomes part of the weather at some stage.

In today’s world, weather is acting like a barometer for our environmental disasters. As the polar ice caps melt and the holes widen in the ozone layer, we have to accept that humans are now a factor in the creation and alteration of weather. Our actions have tipped the balance resulting in uncertainty in the ‘natural’ order of things.

The attempt by scientists to understand, record and predict the weather is only partially successful, and I think it is this ability to defy our logic and to overwhelm us with its force that ultimately draws me to this subject. This aspect of nature cannot be controlled or subdued and is a poetic reminder that we are not the masters of the universe. Dance shares with the weather a resistance to easy interpretation. It is about force, direction, dynamics and form. But once the body stops dancing, nothing remains, and once the cyclone is still, we are left with only air. It is motion that brings them both into being.

This work has been a return for me to a focus on pure movement and the fascination I have for choreographing the human body. These exceptional dancers have contributed to both the choreographed and the improvised movement in Weather and without their willingness, superlative talents and belief in what we do, I could not have made this work. The stimulating dialogue I have had with my design and music collaborators has also impacted strongly on the creation of this piece and I owe much to their having strong visions within their own practices to bring to this work.
–Lucy Guerin

Notes from Kristy: Come On In, The Water’s Fine

The other night we heard the resulting song cycles and creative framework of a new work by Heidi Rodewald and her collaborators Donna Di Novelli and Kevin Newbury, who just completed their residency here at the Center. While their time in residence was concentrated, they generated some truly remarkable material in pursuit of collaborative ideas.

And if my reaction to what they shared is any gauge of the future life for this work, it is going to strike some very resonant chords. The project is called “The Good Swimmer” and is based in part upon the found text of a lifeguard training manual from the 1940s (when women had to assume traditional male job roles as they were all off to war).

There was a particular conceptual through line in it that I cannot get out of my mind. A central thread from the instruction manual for lifeguard training: “The Lifeguard knows what she must be most alert to, and most concerned over, which is the good swimmer. The good swimmer knows how to take care of themselves when they swim out beyond where most would venture. The danger for the lifeguard is that those less capable will follow. The good swimmer therefore poses the greatest hazard to the lifeguard’s duty of care.”

I love it when an unexpected and pristine clarity knocks me sideways.

We are about to play host to a whole season of pristine clarity coming out of the artists that are soon to arrive as we open the 2013-2014 program. I thought it might be good to mention a few of the firsts – The Moth kicks off the Spoken Word series, LACO returns for their illustrious program at Royce Hall as our Resident Orchestra, Deer Tick sets UCLA’s Welcome Week off with an alt-country twist to our Roots/Folk series, and Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock – while marking 30 years of amazing music together – kick off our Jazz offerings.

Crossing over from both the Atlantic and the Pacific we welcome the mega-theater work, “Shun-kin” by Complicite in collaboration with Setagaya Public Theater — putting a momentous start to the Theater season, with a work that is quite simply not to be missed. Our Dance series opens the following week with the North American premiere of Lucy Guerin’s most recent choreography, “Weather.”

To put this into some statistical perspective, that’s about 100 independent artists over three weeks, hailing from cities and countries far and wide converging in Los Angeles this September. We are going to be heaving with the generosity of brilliant artists taking the stage to send up their finest for our ebullient audiences, and I for one am BEYOND READY.

One of the aspects to bringing that much creative mastery into a place like this, is what happens on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the venues themselves when unanticipated and astonishing moments in art between impassioned people come together in unique exchange…well, it makes the fight against the traffic and I-405 closures and daily irritations melt away and we get to be joyously AWAKE together. For the artists– the equivalency is that it makes the airport delays, visa approval processes and all of the rehearsals well and truly worth it.

This is a big and important season for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. It marks the deepening presence of our mission and purpose, and a heightened relationship to our supporters and audiences, along with these extraordinary artists. For those of you already reading this, it means that you are interested in the Center sustaining the work of our purpose. Know that I consider one and all of you to be the exact people it will take for us to continue to develop and evolve regardless of the ever-vexing pressures that can work against a great public promise. In short, you are the good swimmers, and here’s hoping that by watching you swim out into the great beyond, others will indeed follow.

–K