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ABOUT GOINGS ON: How to subscribe and submit listings

Contents for May 29, 2012

1. Norm Magnusson, FF Alumn, at WFG, Woodstock, NY, thru July 22

FF Alumn Norm Magnusson marks his curatorial debut with an exhibition entitled "FU at WFG." "FU" refers to Fair Use, and the exhibition examines (and beautifully illustrates) the United States' doctrine of Fair Use as it pertains to artists. The curatorial question that Magnusson asks with his collection of art and artists is whether it's Fair Use or a big F.U. to the original copyright holder. Artists in the show are David Anthone, Julie Chase, Tasha Depp, Valerie Fanarjian, Chad Ferber, David Goldin, Pat Hubik, Stevan Jennis, Norm Magnusson, Molly Rausch, and James Westwater. The WFG gallery is at 31 Mill Hill Rd. in Woodstock, NY and is open Monday through Sunday noon to 5. More information on the show can be found at the exhibition blog: http://fuatwfg.blogspot.com/

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2. Eidiahouse, FF Alumns, at Bushwick Open Studios, Brooklyn, June 1-3

THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS Art As Archive launch, Bushwick Open Studios 2012 http://artsinbushwick.org/bos2012/
June 1-3, 2012 1-7pm
Location: 23 Montieth St. Brooklyn, NY 11206 (Bushwick Ave & Flushing Ave)

contact: Paul Lamarre eidiahouse at earthlink.net 646 226 6478

EIDIA House’s newest project: THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS, Art As Archive, (2006-present) — a 48-foot tractor-trailer containing 171 boxes of art production, spanning three decades as documented by a presentation of digital color photographs, with each photograph titled by the number on the box of its contents. http://www.eidia.com/ This work is a reevaluation of capitalism and consumption in these increasingly tenuous times. THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS, Art As Archive had its launch with a Research Fellowship involving lectures and exhibition at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, (and the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia) in 2011.

Using the physicality of the trailer itself along with tours of the interior utilizing photography, text, and video projection—THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS offers a compelling point of focus for EIDIA’s ‘aesthetic research.’ THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS trailer is conceptualized as a roaming art installation. Presently parked in a shipping container, truck yard in Bushwick, Brooklyn—plans for the project is to involve other artists with similar practices to exhibit within the trailer as a traveling exhibition.

EIDIA, the collaborative artist team of Paul Lamarre and Melissa P. Wolf posit the modality of: reassembling, repositioning, and reshaping previously created artworks to provoke a differing conversation about production and consumption. To question what is our responsibility as cultural producers? Are artists a part of the problem or the solution? EIDIA presents the struggles and contradictions of the production of art in a capitalist economic model, which acts to constrain the progressive—“socially radical” potential of the resulting work.

EIDIA’s work is consistently an interdisciplinary / intermedia endeavor exploring the dynamics of art politics, social spaces, and the environment. The work presents its form through multimedia installations, photography, sculpture, video, aesthetic research, and painting.

http://www.eidia.com/

map: http://artsinbushwick.org/bos2012/directory/?q=eidia&day=&media=&pg=1&perpage=10

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3. Dynasty Handbag, FF Alumn, at Movement Research Festival, Manhattan, June 2

Sat, June 2, 2012
Movement Research Festival - Push It Real Good
8 PM only 5 dollars! what??

Dynasty Handbag - new work!
SOUNDS AFFECTIONATE
performance includes a DH version of Damn I wish I was your Lover, plus exciting historical accuracies and current inaccuracies.

Also Performing... Tarek Halaby and Adrienne Truscott!
Followed by - Ryan Heffington’s SWEATY SUNDAYS with Heather Lang (I have been to this in LA. Prepare to die. of dancing), followed by jams with JAMS

The Center at West Park
165 W. 86th Street (West Park Presbyterian Church, corner of Amsterdam Avenue.)
NYC
1 train to 86th
B,C trains to 86th

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4. Frank Moore, FF Alumn, at Temescal Art Center, Oakland, June 2

RISK FOR DEEP LOVE
a ritual audience participation experience experiment

The Underground Hit!

Frank Moore, world-known shaman performance artist, will conduct improvised passions of musicians, actors, dancers, and audience members in a laboratory setting to create altered realities of fusion beyond taboos. Bring your passions and musical instruments and your senses of adventure and humor.
Other than that, ADMISSION IS FREE! (But donations are encouraged.)

ARE YOU HUMAN ENOUGH FOR THIS?

Saturday, June 2, 2012
8pm

TEMESCAL ART CENTER
511 48th Street
Oakland, CA 94609-2058

For more information
Call: 510-526-7858
http://www.eroplay.com/events.html
http://www.temescalartcenter.org/index.html

2012 Dates!
7/7
8/4
9/1
10/6
11/3
12/1

“Frank Moore, a genius explorer of the frontiers of human affection.”
www.reddit.com

"...He's wonderful and hilarious and knows exactly what it's all about and has earned my undying respect. What he's doing is impossible, and he knows it. That's good art...." L.A. Weekly

“...one of the U.S.'s most controversial performance artists,....” P-Form Magazine

"If performance art has a radical edge, it has to be Frank Moore." Cleveland Edition

"Surely wonderful and mind-goosing experience." L.A. Reader

“(Frank Moore is) the king of eroticism.” Mike Trachel

Downloadable poster here:

http://www.eroplay.com/risk-june2012.pdf

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5. Phyllis Bulkin Lehrer, FF Alumn, at Harvestworks, Manhattan, June 14-28

"Animation as Artistic Practice" The Exhibit

June 14-28th 2012

Opening June 14th 6:00 P.M. - 9 :P.M. screening at 7:30 ..
FREE

Location:
Harvestworks - www.harvestworks.org
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker

This art exhibition and screening at Harvestworks , concieved by Phyllis Bulkin Lehrer will present work along with fellow animation artists Gregory Barsamian, Emily Hubley , George Griffin, Holly Daggers and Jeff Scher ,references an "Artist Talk on Art" panel event that took place on December 9th 2011 at the Westwood Gallery in Soho NYC. This Harvestworks show will include installation, film, projection and artwork by the above six local New York artists who are actively engaged in the process and paradigm of animation as an integral element of their artistic practice.

Todays’ moving image artists incorporate new media in complex and not one dimensional ways. All however, are tethered in some fashion to traditional animation’s archival core of persistence of vision along with the contemporary pixels of the computers visual output.

The artists in this exhibit embrace this dichotomy in very divergent but always interesting directions .It adds up to the variety of how we experience life and express ourselves as humans. As artists we are in varying degrees products of our historical techniques and our technological innovations. How we choose to implement those degrees makes for the depth and breath of artistic potential. This exhibit explores the work of six New York art makers whose imagery incorporates animated movement in new media and old as a practical focus and an artistic identity .

Animation as a fine art endeavour has a rich heritage in the New York City area and there are many wonderful artists who practice the form . Museum and gallery fine art exhibits that include animated moving images are often by artists that live and practice far from the NYC environs. This show presents an opportunity to experience work by dynamic local artists who focus on many variations of the concept of animation as an art form and medium.

The exhibiting artists come from diverse backgrounds to the practice of animation as an element of fine art.

George Griffin is an historic American experimental animator who has produced a marvellous body of cutting edge animated artwork and forged the way for the current generation of emerging artists who are delving into the realm of the plastic moving image. He has won many awards and is an expert in all aspect of the discourse.
Emily Hubley is the daughter of pioneer animators John and Faith Hubley . She carries on their esteemed tradition with her own distinctive creative approach to animation. Her beautiful films are quirky and insightful . They embody the notion of animation as art.

Gregory Barsamian is a sculptor and animator , a rare and amazing combination. The works he creates are in a class by themselves. Often monumental, they bring the element of persistence of vision to a concrete and tangible form that illuminates and gives dynamic meaning to the idea of motion.

Holly Daggers , an expert in the VJ world is an artist who uses digital animation to produce immersive seductive imagery that creates addictive projection environments. She often collaborates with new music and sound artists ( as well as dancers), creating a sensory experience not easily forgotten.

Jeff Scher an artist and educator , makes wonderful animated works that explore the ordinary world and allow the observer an opportunity to experience movement on a singular and contemplative plane.

Phyllis Bulkin Lehrer is a painter/animator who made animated films and performance art works in the eighties, paused in the 90's and reinvented her animation practice in the 2000's. She creates installations and works with dancers often using the new media software platform of max/msp/jitter. She is exploring the mix of animation with real time interaction.

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6. Carmelita Tropicana, Ela Troyano, FF Alumns, at El Museo de Barrio, Manhattan, May 31-June 3

Carmelita Tropicana & Ela Troyano (NYC)
Post Plastica
"Carmelita Tropicana lights up New York's performance venues with colorful, hilarious, and brain-twisting narratives." -Time Out New York

Part live performance, part video installation, this piece offers a glimpse into a future in which celebrity culture has pitched a battle between the primacy of virtual and artistic lives; in which revolutionaries keep bees in a secret underground; and in which a half-woman, half-bear scientist has gained the upper hand...

Featuring Becca Blackwell, Erin Markey, and Carmelita Tropicana. Production design by Aliza Shvarts, costumes by Yali Romagoza, and lights by Chris Hudacs. Film photography by Uzi Parnes.

"[S]o many rock stars of downtown New York theater!"
- check out the Huffington Post feature on the show

Each evening will be begin at 6pm in El Museo's El Cafe with complimentary pre-show talks featuring guest experts, curated by the artists. Performances begin in El Museo's El Teatro at 7:30pm.
• May 31 in the lobby Exhibit of Stereoscopic Images by Richard Pell from the Center for PostNatural History
• June 1 in El cafe Meet the Celebrity: Fufurufu (a brown and black toy poodle) & Nao Bustamante give a lecture/demo
• June 2 in El cafe Urban Beekeeping with Guillermo Fernandez, of NYC Beekeeping / BIRD BRAIN with Jennifer Monson, choreographer & artistic director of interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art Nature and Dance (iLAND )
• June 3 in El cafe Normal Is Good: Aliza Shvarts interviews Yali Romagoza, an artist who has recently arrived from Havana, Cuba

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7. Elisabeth Condon, Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Michael Katchen, Chrysanne Stathacos, and Suzanne Varni, FF Alumns, at Cuchifritos, Manhattan, June 1-3

Collect new art and support LES art & artists:

"A Benefit from the Edge" on Friday June 1 - Sunday June 3

open 12pm-7pm at CUCHIFRITOS Gallery/Project Space

Organized by: Nancy Friedemann and Charley Friedman, for its 3rd year in a row, Artists Alliance Inc is excited to invite you to our Works on Paper benefit.

The artworks are $100 or less, with a wide range of work that has been generously donated by emerging, mid-career and established artists. The affordability allows artists to be collectors and provides an opportunity for art enthusiasts to inexpensively invest in a diverse selection of art such as prints, drawings, paintings, collage, and photographs.

All the proceeds of the benefit support Artists Alliance Inc, a non-profit art organization based on the Lower East Side that provides vital resources to artists and connects them to the local community.

Participating Artists:

Manuel Acevedo, Sazia Afrin, Chuck Agro, Elia Alba, Anita Allyn, Blanka Amezkua, Shelly Bahl, David Baskin, John Bauer, Sarah Bauman, Jesse Bercowetz, Gerald Bergstein, Danielle Berkowitz, Sara Bichão, Matthew Blache, Chris Bors, Liene Bosque, Victoria Bradbury, Bethany Bristow, Jordan Buschur, Santiago Cal, Sarah Cal, Laura Cali, Khadijah Canns, Blaine De St Croix, Christina Carlsson, Mary Carter Taub, Laura Carton, Katie Cercone, Marci Cheary, Paul Clay, Elisabeth Condon, Holly Coulis, Sonia Louise Davis, Eric Doeringer, Jenny Dubnau, Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Maria Jose Duran Steinman, Carrie Elston Tunick, Inka Essenhigh, Anoka Faruqee, Brian Foo, Pamela Fraser, Nancy Friedemann, David K. Friedman, Nina Friedman, Charley Friedman, Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Anne Gaines, Richard Gamble, Carla Gannis, Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, Joy Garnett, Sunny Gibbons, Charles Goldman, Guy Goldstein, Rupert Goldsworthy, Steve Goss, Ben Grasso, Linda Griggs, Emily Hartzell, Joe Heaps Nelson, Kent Henricksen, Jerry Hirshberg, Felicity Hogan, David Humphrey, Ketta Ioannidou, Naoko Ito, Arlene Jimenez, CJ Johnson, Victor Juhas, Dennis Kardon, Michael Katchen, Douglas Ward Kelley, Jenny Kim, Tine Kindermann, Jay Kreimer, Julia Kunin, Fabienne Lasserre, Dorin Levy, Liz Linder, Cotter Luppi, Bill Massey, Jen Mazza, Claire McConaughy, Deborah Mesa-Pelly, Carlos Motta, Steve Mumford, George Neubert, Sally Novak, Ana de Orbegoso , Karen Ostrom, Judith Page, Gelah Penn, Lou Peralta, Gregg Perkins, Peter Pinnell, Rachel Poccia, Jonathan Podwil, Mark Power, William Powhida, Lina Puerta, Gail Quagliata, Kanishka Raja, Jess Rees, Kristine Robinson, Nettie Rogers, Luis Roldan, Craig Roper, Sheila Ross, Alexandra Rozenman, Heidi Russell, Dan Schein, Julia Schwadron, Lizzie Scott, Rachel Selekman, Jason Severs, Jean Shin, Viviane Silvera, Sarah Singh, Carri Skoczek, Sandi Slone, Francisco Souto, Aaron Spangler, Andrea Stanislav, Chrysanne Stathacos, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Temple, Josette Urso, Suzanne Varni, James Verdesoto, Deborah Wasserman, Marie Watt, Chuck Webster, Michelle Weinberg, Dina Weiss, Wendy Weiss, Julian Wellisz, Dirk Westpahl, Sarah Williams, Jim Wines, Sher Wouters, Michelle Yarnick, Jane Yeomans, Patricia Zarate, and many more!

A HUGE thank you to: all the artists who have generously donated works, to our event organizers artists— Nancy Friedemann and Charley Friedman, outreach support by Molly MacFadden, our Gallery Manager – Lauren Testa, and to all our dedicated volunteers.

THANK YOU ALL for making this event possible!

CUCHIFRITOS is located inside the historic Essex Street Market, at 120 Essex Street, south end nearest Delancey Street
The gallery is free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible.
Trains: F, J, M, & Z to Essex/Delancey

Other Upcoming Events:
Butter Digger: Closing Ritual - Saturday, May 26 at 5:30pm at Cuchifritos Gallery/ Project Space led by Rev. Lainie Love Dalby

HOWL! Festival: ¡Splash! - Sunday, June 3 from 11-3pm at Tompkins Square Park community art event involving buckets of paint, canvas, artists and kids

Witness Material: Opening Reception - Saturday, June 9 from 4-6pm at Cuchifritos Gallery/Project Space Artists: Victoria Bradbury, Elizabeth Tolson and Steina Vasulka Curated by Nick Garofoli

For more information about Artists Alliance Inc's programs please visit: artistsallianceinc.org or email info at artistsallianceinc.org

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8. Laura Blacklow, FF Alumn, receives curator’s prize, A Smith Gallery, San Antonio, TX, and more

Laura Blacklow was awarded the curator's prize for her one-of-a-kind artist's book about the disappearing Guatemalan rain forest and its effect on the medicinal herbs used by the Maya, shown at A Smith Gallery, San Antonio, Texas. She is also teaching a course, "Handmade Photography" (pinhole cameras, historical sun-printing processes, digital negatives) June 4-8 at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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9. Stephanie Brody-Lederman, FF Alumn, at Southampton Cultural Center, NY, opening June 7

"The Visual Vernacular exhibition is organized on the premise of art as a visual language. Elements of this language are used in an individual manner leading to a personal idiom in which the viewer interprets meaning."

VISUAL VERNACULAR:
FOUR ARTISTS:
BRODY-LEDERMAN, HAUBRICH, LEIBER, STRONG-CUEVAS
Curated by Arlene Bujese

June 4 - July 1, 2012
Southampton Cultural Center
25 Pond Lane, Southampton, NY
wwwsouthamptonculturelcenter.org
Gallery Hours
12 - 4 Mon-Sat
Gallery will be closed on June 20 + 21
OPENING RECEPTION THURDAY JUNE 7TH, 5-7

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10. Liz Phillips, FF Alumn, at Roulette, Manhattan, June 2-3

ROULETTE PRESENTS
INTERACTIVE SOUND INSTALLATION ART PIONEER
LIZ PHILLIPS
“BIYUU”
FEATURING BUTOH DANCER MARIKO ENDO REYNOLDS
JUNE 2ND AND 3RD AT 8PM AT 509 ATLANTIC AVENUE,
BROOKLYN, NY 11217

Liz Phillips explores the body electric, ground, and tides to reveal a fragile ecosystem. In this performance titled “Biyuu” (a Japanese word which mimics the sound of bamboo bending in the wind) Phillips teams up with Butoh Dancer, Mariko Endo Reynolds. Their investigation of the body in both potential energy fields and in nature—bamboo, tall reeds and water (recorded at the Edith Read Sanctuary) will be brought to the stage.
On the tuned stage Mariko’s body will become an antenna as she shifts shape, moving near ground and reaching out. Her body will act as a conductor and the space around her will be activated, creating sound responses. Phillips will translate, transpose and shift spectrums, activating water, sound and color formations as the projections fall on translucent paper scrims and the weather balloon. The paper will act sometimes as the loudspeaker, at other times as a sensor. As Mariko performs, she will move the weather balloon to capture images and transform the stage. Seen and unseen waves of water, sub audio, audio, radio frequency, ultrasonic and light will become tactile material as Liz creates a hypersensitive 3D sound and video installation which reinvents the performance landscape.

This project has been funded by many individuals through USA Projects, Parabola Arts Foundation, the David Bermant Foundation and Roulette.
Liz Phillips

New York-based artist Liz Phillips has been making interactive multi-media installations for the past 40 years. She creates responsive environments sensing wind, plants, fish, audience, dance, water, and food. Audio and visual art forms combine with new technologies to create elastic time-space constructs. Sound is the primary descriptive material. Since 2000 many of her installations such as “Shaded Bandwidths” and “Echo-Location: Queens” have employed multiple human-scale video projections.
Phillips has exhibited at museums, alternative spaces, festivals, and public spaces including The Milwaukee Art Museum, Queens Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Spoleto Festival USA, the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center Festival, Ars Electronica, Jacob’s Pillow, The Kitchen, Rene Block Gallery and Frederieke Taylor Gallery. Public spaces as diverse as an alternative energy site in a wind turbine (1981) in the South Bronx , the anchorage under the Brooklyn Bridge (2001), Peavy Plaza in Minneapolis and Art Park in Lewiston NY have all been the locations of site specific installations. Phillips has collaborated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Nam June Paik, Alison Knowles, Yoshi Wada, Earl Howard, Simone Forti and Robert Kovich. Her work was presented by Creative Time, the Cleveland Orchestra, IBM Japan, and the World Financial Center. Phillips received fellowships and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), commissions from New York State Council on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. Phillips teaches workshops and lectures on Sound and Interactive Media, now at Purchase College. In the last ten years she has curated several exhibitions of emerging artists and women making installations with sound.

Mariko Endo Reynolds
Mariko Endo Reynolds is a professional Japanese Butoh Dancer who trained in Tokyo with Akira Kasai, one of the co-founders of the Butoh movement. She toured Japan and the United States as a principal dancer in one of Japan’s representative Butoh companies, Dairakudakan. In addition to her foundation of dance, she has studied anthropology and energy healing, all which influence her approach to dance as a sculpture of consciousness. Since moving to New York she has been active in many Butoh dance and multi-media projects. She is teaching Butohin Tanua Calamoneri’s Company SoGono Butoh Workshop.

For more information on Roulette Brooklyn:
509 Atlantic Ave (corner of Atlantic and 3rd Aves in downtown Brooklyn) 2, 3, 4, 5, C, G, D, M, N, R, B & Q trains and the LIRR
General admission: $15 / $10 Roulette Members, Students, Seniors
Tickets can be purchased online: www.roulette.org

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11. Esther K. Smith, FF Alumn, artists books class, at Cooper Union, Manhattan, June 5-July 31

Come make (artist) books with me--
I still have room in my Cooper Union Artist Books class. But sign up NOW (to avoid late fees).

Artist Books with Esther K. Smith
Cooper Union | 6:30-9:30PM | Tuesdays, June 5- July 31 | 9 sessions
Artist Books—A Structural Approach
Esther K Smith

Artist books are containers for drawing, writing, painting, prints, collage, and even experimental and electronic media. This class explores a different structural approach each day. Students first make quick models, look at artist books, and then develope their own pieces. :Learn to make books from Eastern and Early Western traditions that require only a few tools and almost no glue: stitched books, accordion-based forms, and simple pop-ups. Even make your own long-stitch leather-covered sketchbooks or journals with your favorite papers.

Esther K. Smith is the author of How to Make Books (Random House). She makes collaborative limited edition artist books with printer Dikko Faust and other artists at Purgatory Pie Press.
Solo exhibitions include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Harvard University. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, the Whitney, Cooper Hewitt, the Walker, the Tate, and Fales Downtown collection.
Smith has taught Artist Books at Cooper Union since 1992, and has been a visiting artist at Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA), Center for Book Arts, RISD, Princeton University, London College of Communication, Camberwell College of Arts (London), and many other institutions.

Esther K Smith
www.PurgatoryPiePress.com
Purgatory Pie Press
19 Hudson St #403
NYC 10013
212-274-8228
www.PurgatoryPiePress.com
"Their House is a Museum" EKSmithMuseum.com

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12. Graciela Cassel, FF Member, at Consulate General of Argentina, Manhattan, opening June 7

Recovered Memories- Graciela Cassel
June 7, 2012- June 28, 2012
Opening Reception: June 7th at 6 PM- 8PM
Department of Cultural Affairs
Consulate General of Argentina
12 W 56th Street New York, NY 10019

Tel: 212-603-0400
Art Gallery

Hours: Monday to Friday : 11 AM/ 5PM

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13. John Fekner, Judy Glantzman, FF Alumns, at Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Manhattan, thru July 7

The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront April 4- July 7, 2012
Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Curated by Jonathan Weinberg with Darren Jones
http://leslielohman.org/Exhibitions2012/The-PIERS_1.html

Louis Frangella, John Fekner, David Finn, Judy Glantzman ++++++

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14. Lenora Champagne, Lizzie Olesker, Joan Jonas, Fiona Templeton, FF Alumns, in The Brooklyn Rail, May 2012

The Brooklyn Rail, May 2012
LENORA CHAMPAGNE and LIZZIE OLESKER with Claire MacDonald
by Claire MacDonald

Tiny Lights: Memory’s Storehouse/Infinite Miniature, a theater piece composed of two solo works by Lenora Champagne and Lizzie Olesker, explores domestic space and narrative memory. It is both a conversation between two texts and a theatrical collaboration between two experienced performer writers. Tiny Lights incorporates poetic text, gestural movement, and elements of Object Theater as it creates theatrical narrative from things both true and imagined. British theater artist and writer Claire MacDonald acted as dramaturg and an outside eye. MacDonald spoke to Champagne and Olesker about the process of creating and performing Tiny Lights, following an initial run in a raw gallery space at the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn in January 2012. Tiny Lights will be presented again at the New Ohio Theatre from May 17 – 20.

Here’s what I’m thinking about...A whole world contained within, just a small thing holding everything else in it. There’s the real world outside…and then the one right here, the one we’re making for you right now.

—from Infinite Miniature
Lizzie Olesker in Infinite Miniature. Photo by William Moree.

Claire MacDonald (Rail): How did the idea for the Tiny Lights collaboration begin?

Lenora Champagne: Lizzie and I had known each other at the end of the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s, when we were both working in downtown theater. We hadn’t had a lot of contact in recent years, but we met up at a memorial service of a downtown playwright who was a very interesting artist who died early, in his 60s. We talked about how difficult it is with our jobs and children to continue making our work in a disciplined fashion and we decided to have a writing group—of us.

Lizzie Olesker: So, we got together and wrote around this table, here in Lenora’s studio on Horatio Street.

Champagne: We’d meet for three or four hours, when we could, every few weeks. We did it religiously and developed enough material that we decided to apply for an artist’s residency at the Tofte Lake Center in Minnesota.

Olesker: Being in that remote northern landscape influenced the evolution of each of our solos, giving us the time and space to write, to collaborate in that special place.

The lake lies, open and vast, before me.
I’m both in the trees and on the water.
It’s lovely and wild here up North.
We could paddle to Canada, if it weren’t raining.

—from Memory’s Storehouse

Rail: Why was it that you needed to collaborate when you were each doing a solo piece?

Olesker: One thing we initially talked about was this feeling of becoming more isolated. We shared a sense of longevity and yet felt like we were once “part of the conversation” and then, suddenly, we’re not.

Rail: Did you each have a text to begin with?

Olesker: Infinite Miniature grew out of my play Shrink that began with my desire to explore the form of Toy and Object Theater. In that earlier incarnation, there was another character—the ghost of a lost, adult brother who returns. Eventually, I let the brother go and focused on the solo woman character who sits at her kitchen table in the middle of the night, waiting for her teenage son to come home.

Can’t sleep, not anymore. But can still feel the milk let down if I think about it, like it was yesterday—crazy, crazy tingling, 18 years later. And the weight, still right here in my arm, holding him. My 10 lb. chicken, my sack of potatoes, huh.

—from Infinite Miniature

Rail: Did you have a text already written, Lenora?

Champagne: Yes, I had the text called Memory’s Storehouse, which is Part I of my solo. I had created that piece during a summer when I was visiting upstate. I was alone a lot and there were some beautiful days, and I sat outside and wrote the beginning of the piece about Memory.

Memory is a wisp of a girl. Flighty, yet fundamentally sound and strong. She likes to wear white, because it’s a good reflector. When she has a lot to absorb, she slips into a darker color.

—from Memory’s Storehouse

Champagne: I had written a piece about Alzheimer’s and our national inability to remember history. At that time, my good friend and writer Fiona Templeton came to see a rehearsal and said, “I think you should have a character named Memory.” I didn’t add a character named Memory to that play, but the idea of that character stayed with me. In a way, instead of the memory that’s lost, this is the Memory that’s found, the memory that I explore.

I also used some of the material we wrote here, together. For instance, Lizzie suggested we each write about a room. We said we’re going to come up with five rooms, and we’re going to describe those rooms.

Memory has occupied many rooms in her lifetime. Some of these rooms speak to her more forcefully or more eloquently or more insidiously than others. In nearly every room she’s abided in, she’s re-arranged something.

—from Memory’s Storehouse

Rail: Memory’s Storehouse and Infinite Miniature are very concrete works, having deep roots in everyday life. Are they based on your own lives?

Olesker: Yes and no. There are aspects of my life that informed the character and the piece—the emotional life of it is truthful to me, but the factual details of it are not necessarily true. I think of it as a fake memoir but with some things that run parallel to my own life.

Welcome to my shrinking world, my old story. Everything held right here between the stove, fridge and phone. All of it contained right here, in this triangular cell. On the continent of this table, floating in an ocean of minutes… Ladies and gents… Welcome to the Tiny Universe Theater!

—from Infinite Miniature
Lenora Champagne in Memory's Storehouse. Photo by William Moree.

Rail: I became aware that we’re mothers and have had our children at different points in our lives. It seems to me that one of the issues that we’re all dealing with is the relationship between the private and the public for women in our 50s as we move on in our lives. Do you think that’s something that’s there in your piece?

Champagne: Absolutely. Women of our age in the past and even now in New York City, we’re not center stage, because cultural capitals are interested in what the next new thing is, and you can’t be the next new thing if you’re in your 50s. There’s something about that sense of our place in the culture that we’re dealing with in our piece.

I think the kind of concerns I explore about aging and loss are things that other people strongly related to. Part of what I’m after is using my own personal exploration as a kind of canvas that other people can project themselves onto.

The other house Memory stores things in, more like a storeroom, is her body. This house is falling apart.

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Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller