The Mountain Bar at Tif Sigfrids, with a performance by Gracie DeVito and company, August 7, 2014

Posted in historical notes, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on August 8, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Image courtesy Tif Sigfrids and Gracie DeVito

Image courtesy Tif Sigfrids and Gracie DeVito

Tif Sigrids, longtime fixture on the early Chinatown scene before she set up her current digs in Hollywood, is paying tribute to her (and our) past with a temporary installation of the Mountain Bar at her gallery. Founded by Jorge Pardo and Steve Hanson in 2003, the Mountain Bar was for many years a gathering spot for the then-hot Chinatown art scene. In 2009, Pardo created the upstairs bar that would become home to The Mountain School of Arts (a free school initiated by Eric Wesley and Piero Golia) as well as various presentations, talks, performances and film screenings. In 2012, the bar closed, and Pardo’s designs have been in storage ever since.

Now, Sigfrids has taken an actual section of the original upstairs bar and installed it on one side of her gallery, where she and various volunteers serve free beer and wine to guests. The beautiful, cinematic design of the bar is served really well by the small, clean space of the gallery, where both its aesthetic qualities and its cultural significance seem to resonate with an extra glow, bathing the entire space in its warm, charismatic light. Perhaps nostalgia and history have something to do with that.

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Q&A with Rebecca Bruno: THE BEGINNING

Posted in interviews, reviews and commentary on July 27, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing two iterations of a dance performance by Rebecca Bruno, which both took place at Live Arts Los Angeles in front of a small group of friends and colleagues. Titled THE BEGINNING, the work seeks to engage directly with the energies generated by the people in the room, digging deep into the dancer’s sensory awareness to create a series of responses to the present moment. As Bruno writes in the announcement email: “A couple questions I am asking in this practice: What happens when the exploratory moments in a work’s nascency are performed? What, if anything, can a dancer indicate about collective energy?”

The first half of THE BEGINNING consists of a short participatory exercise led by Bruno. Audience members are asked to choose from amongst a set of essential oils provided for us. Whichever one we are most attracted to, we can apply to our bodies as needed. Properly re-tuned, we are then asked to get into pairs and walk around the studio, one after the other. The person in front leads while the person behind follows and observes the first person’s body and way of walking. After a couple of minutes, we stop and share our experience with one another. Then we switch roles and repeat.

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Q&A with Emily Mast

Posted in interviews on July 9, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Emily Mast directing ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again. Photo: Will Wright.

Emily Mast directing ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again.
Photo: Will Wright.

Following Saturday night’s performance of ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again at Night Gallery, Emily Mast graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions via email.

Carol Cheh: Strangely, there isn’t really any explanatory text available for ENDE (Like a New Beginning). Is this intentional? Or would you like to share some explication or back story with us?

Emily Mast: The title of the piece that’s currently at the Hammer is ENDE (Like a New Beginning), as opposed to the title of the piece at Night Gallery which is ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again. I wrote a sort of poetic press release that can be accessed on the Night Gallery website. It’s supposed to introduce visitors to a general feeling rather than a specific back story.

All of the iterations of ENDE began with poetry, or texts that I wrote to describe very specific moments in my life. Those texts were translated into gesture with my performers during a series of intensive workshops. And those gestures were named (and therefore re-translated into text) and then juxtaposed and layered to form one large, varied landscape of moments. One of my performers referred to it as a “minefield,” which I think is quite fitting.

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Emily Mast, ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again, Night Gallery, July 5, 2014

Posted in reviews and commentary on July 7, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Emily Mast ENDE Again 007a

A huge crowd was gathering outside the door of Night Gallery at the amber twilight hour. I spied the faces of several people who don’t really go out much these days, making a rare effort to attend this event. The large rollover gate finally opened with a dramatic bang some time after 8, and people filed in. I pressed inward with my friends and noticed two staging areas stocked with props and semi-separated by a curve around movable walls. At the far end, a band was set up. Two walls at opposite ends of the space were designated for live video projections.

There was space for the audience in the areas around and between the staging areas, which were delineated with tape, and Emily directed us to sit or stand so that the performers would have the room they needed to do their thing. There were over a hundred people squeezed into the space, and wherever you were, you could only see a portion of what was going on. Emily announced that the performance would be run through at least twice, so that everyone could see as much as possible. For the first performance, my friends and I stood at the rim of the first staging area, close to the band, and facing the large video projection wall. We were surrounded by viewers behind us and faced the viewers who sat under the video wall.

The air was thick and the anticipation was electric. Everyone was so excited for this event, described as an expansion of Emily’s commission for the Hammer Museum’s current Made in L.A. exhibition. It would include “14 performers, live sound, live lighting manipulation, live video feed and and live directing,” according to an email from the artist.

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KISSME LO MAXIMO!, Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, Colectivo KissMe and friends, Human Resources, July 3–6, 2014

Posted in noteworthy, photo essays, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on July 4, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

If you’re around this Fourth of July weekend, you should stop by Human Resources and check out KISSME LO MAXIMO!, a groovalicious installation by LA artists Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, and several very helpful friends, in collaboration with a group of Colombian artists calling themselves Colectivo KissMe. The installation is part of an ongoing project that examines and critiques the culture and politics surrounding the infamous KissMe Cali, a Colombian sex hotel. (Think amped-up Madonna Inn with rooms rentable by the hour.)

The Human Resources installation looks like a very glamorous South American rave. At the opening last night, people roamed around amidst video, sound and light installations; outrageous sculptures, wall hangings and found objects; a slide that dumps people onto a bed and a pile of giant cushions; pornos by Margie Schnibbe that you can’t see; and even a sex room (which as of 10:30 last night had not yet been utliized). There was also a live feed from the artists in Colombia. Fabulous hostesses del Sol, Boya and Margot Walsh got dolled up almost beyond recognition in what I was told was approved Colombian hostess regalia (tons of makeup, huge false eyelashes and revealing outfits) and gladly offered tours of the show.

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an Evening of Ice Bergs

Posted in Documents on Dance, guest blog posts with tags , , on June 6, 2014 by Chloë Flores
Courtesy of Pieter

Courtesy of Pieter

In January, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in California and the exhibition Facing the Sublime in Water, CA at the Armory Center for the Arts closed. The following month Silver Lake residents debated the fate of Ivanhoe Reservoir amid DWP plans to phase out open-air reservoirs, while figure skating and short track speed skating events were underway at Iceberg Skating Palace for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. The icebergs are thawing.

Simone Forti has been “working with news” since the mid-1980s, so it felt natural that these and other concurrent local, national and global newsworthy events came to mind while watching her and Rae Shao-Lan’s dance performance, an Evening of Ice Bergs, at Pieter on February 24, 2014. (Tashi Wada performed the well-accompanied score.)

I watched the performance in various states of enjoyment, even giggling at times—a response that typically makes its way into my experience of Forti’s work. Yet, when I sat down to address my notes, something about my experience troubled me. Continue reading

Allison Wyper launches La Zanja Madre Performances

Posted in noteworthy, upcoming events with tags , , on June 5, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Zanja Madre 006a

So… due to irreconcilable differences that emerged between Team CheLores and the de facto organizers of the Perform Chinatown event, Chloë and I will not be curating the event on July 26. Something will happen on that date, but it will have nothing to do with us.

Not to worry, this development is definitely a blessing, not a curse. We are currently in talks to partner with other entities to present a major performance event, on a timetable that works for us, with like-minded collaborators and with the resources we need in place. Please stay tuned for announcements on that front as things develop.

In the meantime, I want to present to you an excellent project from Allison Wyper, which we were originally going to feature in our proposed version of Perform Chinatown. La Zanja Madre Performances is emblematic of the thoughtfulness and deep intellectual and bodily engagement that we admire in performance work. Due to her own timing and collaboration needs, Allison is moving forward with the project this summer as she originally planned, and both Chloë and I are in full support. Please check it out!

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