Low Lives, what was gained, lossed and remembered
by Ayanna Jolivet McCloud
(originally published by Ayanna Jolivet McCloud on labotanica's blog)
Working at an organization devoted to Creative Music (Nameless Sound), I’ve gotten more in tune with improvisation and how the music is very much about the process of figuring it out in front of the audience. In this spontaneity and transparency, the work can be very raw, emotional, awkward, and present.
Last night labotanica presented Low Lives at Project Row Houses. The show was curated by artist Jorge Rojas, and essentially after sending out an international call for proposals, he selected 31 artists living in different places around the world working with performance. He asked them to transmit 2-5 minute performances over the web live on USTREAM, which were then projected into three venues around the country— Project Row Houses in Houston presented by labotanica; FiveMyles in Brooklyn; and Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami. There were a lot of players involved and this was the first time that Jorge had curated this sort of a show.
Eseohe Arhebamen Edoheart- Video still from Fire Butoh 3 (excerpt)
The show was about the transmission of an idea and what gets lost, blurred, gained and sometimes misconfigured through technology, and also the low-fi DIY quality that is often present in a lot of the ways we communicate via technology. It was obviously about our connections beyond borders, often via technology. Another theme explored seemed to be how we presently communicate and present ourselves, and the filters that are often involved in this. In the show, there were the filters of technology, the curator, the presenters and more that I’m sure I might be missing.
labotanica is about rethinking traditional formulas, valuing processes over products, and in exposing processes being open to exploration and collaboration. Low Lives wasn’t as polished as a traditional “exhibition” or “screening” might be. To be honest, for me as a presenter, it was very awkward, raw, and transparent. It wasn’t easy, and I think that while we were pretty prepared, we were figuring a lot out as we presented. I think this was also a part of the show.
All of the artists had an allotted time to perform for 2-5 minutes and Jorge would chat with them online to give them the cue to start. The three presenting organizations and the curator were also communicating via online chat and phone texts. Also some of the artists (and USTREAM users) were viewing each others performances online and commenting on each others performance by chatting. The artists, presenters, and curators were all working it out, and obviously there were some awkward and in between moments that might go smoother if we were to present this another time, but it also activated me in a way that a more slicker presentation might not. I felt very raw, exposed, and vulnerable in presenting this show and it also sparked something in me to continue exploring open-ended processes through labotanica and as an artist.
Bishop Bishop- Video still from Reaching out to touch someones, somewheres, somehows
Some memorable performances were Supplicant by Rosamond S. King, Fire Butoh 3 (excerpt) by Eseohe Arhebamen / edoheart, Dark Seeds (2) by Kenya Robinson, Jump by Kelly Kleinschrodt, And Then What Happened Was by Eden Mazer and Rachel Frank, Sineplex by Sandy Ewen, Y. E. Torres (ms.YET), and Hold Still by Robert Crosse. Videos of the performances will be available on labotanica’s blog soon. I look forward to seeing these videos again over the web.
I think that art is a bit about how you engage with a work in person, but more importantly what you walk away with. As an artist (and organizer), it is also about working things out. As an artist/ organizer the show made me more inclined to do more collaborative pieces and to open myself up to failure or success and let the audience to be a part of that process. In doing this it creates space for vulnerability, and that becomes interesting.