Monday, August 10, 2009

Reflections on ‘Low Lives’ Exhibition by Rosie Gordon-Wallace and Ayanna Jolivet McCloud

Kelly Kleinschrodt- Video still from Jump

Low Lives, a one-night exhibition of live performance-based works transmitted via the internet and projected in real time was presented this past Saturday, August 8, 2009 simultaneously at Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, FiveMyles in Brooklyn, and labotanica in Houston in partnership with Project Row Houses.

Low Lives 'Choreographic Dialogues'

by Rosie Gordon-Wallace

Sergio Lamanna- Video still from Monumento al Cuerpo Manipulable

There was an excitement in the space because most of us were experiencing this format of viewing video that "embraces works with a lo-fi aesthetic such as low pixel image and sound quality, contributing to a raw, DIY and sometimes voyeuristic quality in the transmission and reception of the work" as described by curator Jorge Rojas, for the first time.

Committed and engaged were a mature group of visitors who were intrigued with the process, and had dialog about the new formulation and media. The ability to truly engage each other with immediacy and global impact.

I agree with Ayanna Jolivet Mcloud that Rosamond King's video - "supplicant"was visually engaging and compelling. Her performance was powerful and created a connection to her actions and an emotional connect to global politics. Videos that stood out and garnered laughter and oohs! were the naked swinger, not because we understood his intentions, but primarily because we were waiting for something to happen, so had our audience looking for more rather than asking for more. Jump by Kelly Kleinschrodt was interesting and "An on line introduction to Midnight Gardening" by Erik and The Animals. Adam Trowbridge - Hole of Society : On the Passage of a Small Dog through a rather Shallow amount of water - funny.

Jorge Rojas must be congratulated for curating this project. The organization that this project required and the commitment to see it through at Five Myles and Project Row Houses must be commended. The play list was synchronized and the videos varied and interesting for the most part. Many attendees wanted information on where the videos were taking place, geography on the play list is recommended for future projects.

Abby Donovan- Video still from Lowering NOW to the Ground

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.


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