tonight i met my thesis advisor at the MoMa (……more to come on that. eventually.) and then he enlisted me to attend the evening musical performance related to the current “Inventing Abstraction” exhibit. the music selected was to somehow relate to abstraction and dissonance, and how music following these later developed in New York.
first, Schoenberg’s Herzgewächse (1911), a short piece that responds to the Maeterlinck poem of the same name “Foliage of the Heart“. dissonant and strange and intense but really fun to watch/listen to.
second, a live 1hr solo vocal performance of this Morton Feldman minimalist piece Three Voices (1982). There was one soprano woman singing over a recording of herself having prerecorded the other two parts. whoah. this was pretty intense for an hour. this piece responded to the Frank O’Hara poem Wind.
Who’d have thought
that snow falls
strangely, a few minutes into it i was like…..i totally recognize this somehow. this is totally something i have heard before. which was confusing because as far as i know, since i haven’t sat around listening to strange minimalist vocal compositions all that much, i have never heard of Morton Feldman or listened to his music before tonight. but it was so familiar…… and then i read the program. the man who designed this musical pairing to Inventing Abstraction is David Lang, who composed the score to The Little Match Girl Passion, in which you may recall my friend Anastazia was the solo butoh performer in the ODC production in San Francisco last year, and was haunting and devastating. crazy.
in short, David Lang’s composition for The Little Match Girl Passion sounded so much like Feldman’s preceding work that i instantly recognized it. which leads me to want to say that even the most avant garde repeats itself or something else…..
we are going back to SF tomorrow for a week. i’m excited but right now i’m also very tired and so please excuse the immediate lack of enthusiasm.
i know things will be good though when straight off the plane i am going to the documentary screening and reception for the full-length performance BadUnklSista produced earlier this year, which I will forever remember as a very special occasion. and the music!! listen here:
This event is free – here is info:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PST)
Z Space San Francisco
450 Florida St
San Francisco, CA 94110
last week/end’s performance was magic. and i mean that in a very grounded way – a very real-and-not-imagined way. once we got on stage for rehearsal wednesday night, in full dress but with no audience, and the music started, and julia’s operatic voice lifted to the rafters, and the hands of the musicians hit their instruments and drums and strings, i sat there and it really hit me and i realized how amazing it was, and how the music was so beautiful (huge props to musician and musical director goyo aranaga) i could listen to it for days. and then i realized…..i could. there were 3 days of rehearals and performances. and i could be present for all of them (it was my choice how many shows i did, as mine was only a supporting role). and i decided i would. and the music only got better.
in the 4 performances over the next 3 days, between going to work in the daytime and then going to the theatre and putting on our white make-up and amazing costumes and everyone in the cast being fun and talented and wonderful and amazing and getting on stage and for 90 minutes creating a dream, an offering of bodies and tears and music and sculpture and art and dance, and having the audience respond so well and participate in that with us – it was magic. the real kind.
we gave everything and more.
it was hard, sometimes, standing there in the middle of the stage, believing that that’s where i was, who i was with, what i was doing, who i am.
i was and am so grateful for everything Bad Unkl Sista has given to me.
and thank you so much to everyone who came out to support. seeing your faces, hearing your reactions – it was so important to us for you to be there.Filed in art, autobiographical | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
butoh contains all of the things that i usually avoid. group activities. games. rituals. prayerformance. contact dance with other humans. separately, in other contexts, i do not often engage in these things. but the philosophy, the intention, and the aesthetic of butoh makes these activities therapeutic for me, like yoga. extreme mindfulness. patience. stillness. giving your all with every breath, every movement. putting it all out there, especially the things you might not want to show.
i had no idea what this was when i first met Anastazia in 2006. our first interactions were fashion related, as she was making and selling costumes when she first moved to SF. but time went by and she moved her focus back to her primary art, performance, and i moved with her.
and now this weekend we are in the midst of the largest production in SF to date – First Breath – Last Breath: a full theatre production, all our own, sharing the bill with no one else, 90-100 minutes on stage.
this cast is really amazing – seasoned butoh dancers, aerialists, a contortionist, an opera singer, sets by SF artist Shrine, and the live music with is incredibly unique and beautiful. i feel so lucky to be a part.
the title refers to the cycle, and cycles, of life, but it is also personally very fitting for me right now. BadUnklSista was my first real breath as a non-fashion-performance artist on a stage, and due to life shifts, this is likely going to be my last performance for a long while.
“about the liminal spaces between the defining moments of our lives.”Filed in art, autobiographical, bay area gems, events, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
yesterday was a strange day. well, most days are strange, but sometimes it seems more acute.
as noted, my chronic pain has flared up again, now for over a month with little relief. so i’m not sleeping well, taking various pills and trying all the therapies again and trying to walk the line with my yoga/workouts between doing nothing and overextending, both of which are bad. friday night we went out dancing and i danced as hard as i could while trying not to hurt myself (not *too* ecstatic), and i felt great when i went to bed, but woke up saturday morning feeling tired and broken, and the pouring rain did nothing to lift my spirits.
1. the little match stick girl
sunday morning jay got up before dawn and went to tahoe, which was only a couple of hours after i had finally fallen asleep. i tossed and turned until i needed to get up to go to see my friend Anastazia’s performance with the SF Lyric Opera in a production of The Little Match Stick Girl Passion at ODC.
The Little Match stick girl is a story by Hans Christian Andersen (1845) about an abused child who dies in the snow trying to sell matchsticks on New Year’s Eve. it’s a puritanical tale about the homeless, and it is heavy. i had planned on going Saturday night, but i was already feeling terrible on saturday and seeing such a thing sounded like a bad idea. and, as it is a reverent morality story, i thought it was more appropriate for a Sunday afternoon.
the piece was minimalist, with a choir of 4 singers (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) singing the David Lang vocal arrangement of the story, a cappella besides a few percussive instruments, and Anastazia, all in white, embodying the child. i have seen and performed with Staz many times, and had also read her description of her preparations to take on this role, which were personal and intense, and so on top of the subject matter, my personal connection to the performance as deep. the haunting vocal arrangement, the visceral embodiment of a scared dying child by my friend – by the end of it, i was full of tears.
and then the producer came out, also trying hard to hold back tears, and gave a short speech about how it was no accident that they chose this story to perform at this space – near 17th and Capp, a neighborhood plagued with prostitution, drugs, and homeless problems – as their return to the stage, and asked us to remember the homeless, remember the downtrodden and the dying. do not just walk by. and then i really lost it.
in Staz’s preparation for this, she said
“I feel the role of a contemporary artist no matter the medium used is to reflect our history, personal and planetary, and offer through that reflection another way to view the present while navigating a positive affect on the future.”
this production definitely achieved that goal.
the combination of this emotional intensity, my body pain, my fatigue – i was a mess. i could barely talk to my friends who were there, and i didn’t stick around to mingle.
2. the litterer
after some deep breaths back out in the sunshine for a bit, i met up with reagan, and we had a respite for a while, and then since it was a sunny day i decided to take a long walk from the mission through mid-market to powell street to get back on the train. at 9th and market/civic center, the man standing in front of me waiting for the walk sign threw his emptied single-serving liquor bottle into the intersection. oh how i hate flippant littering!! it took some restraint not to say anything, but i wasn’t just going to let it go by either. so right when the walk sign came on, i stepped directly in front of him, swooped down and picked up the bottle mid-stride and then kept walking directly to the waste receptacle on the other side of the street and plopped it in. i never looked back behind me, i never made contact, so i don’t know if he saw me, but if nothing else the other people in the crosswalk did.
this decision to not confront the litterer was a departure for me, as i usually do speak up to people like that because i think letting it slide reinforces the behavior. sometimes they really are ashamed “oh, sorry i wasn’t thinking” but sometimes they are defensive “who the fuck are you?!”
but last weekend, on March 17, i took a 1-day women’s personal safety course at Bernal Yoga, as i often find myself either confronting people, or being confronted, on the street and on the train and in clubs/at parties. and it was taught that your first priority is to de-escalate any situation, even if it means saying sorry when you’re not in the wrong, and definitely never provoking people. so i decided there to not provoke the situation, but in the few seconds before we crossed the street figured a way to make my point without ever interacting or making eye contact with the person, and that was to step in front of him and pick up the litter and keep walking.
3. the misogynist
a short time later, unfortunately, i had a much more intense situation in which to practice de-escalation. as i boarded the train home at Powell street, *immediately*, and without any provocation whatsoever, not even eye contact, a guy on the train started talking at me, loudly and aggressively, from a few seats away. “who the fuck you think you are, girl? why you dressed like that?” it was so obtuse that at first i didn’t even realize he was talking to me. his companion tried to calm him down with “come on, man, don’t say things like that. chill out” but the guy kept at it. “who you think you are? so what you got sunglasses? i got sunglasses too, BITCH” and his companion got up and moved down the train, telling him to “shut up, man, you can’t talk to people like that”.
then the guy broke into song to the tune of “i’m sexy and i know it” except that he sang “i’m a rapist and i know it”. WTF. the entire train could hear this. he was loud. i sat unmoving, looking forward from behind my sunglasses, wanting DESPERATELY to say FUCK YOU DUDE but instead deciding to get up and get off at the next stop. the companion kept asking him to stop, but the guy kept it up and i could hear him still yelling things at me as i stepped off the train.
in retrospect i am glad i didn’t say anything to the angry misogynist, except that i wish i would’ve said a very direct Thank You before exiting the train to the companion friend, who at least wasn’t just letting it slide (positive reinforcement).
i wish this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. i deal with street harassment at least 50% of the time that i leave my house alone, and that is unfortunately not an exaggeration. it’s usually not as aggro as that dude, more like the guy 5 minutes earlier before i got on the train that leered and swerved uncomfortably toward me and said “hola rubia……..” as i walked by on the street. but that guy is why i took the self-defense class, because while nothing serious has happened yet, with this rate of incident, i’m scared that it will. SIGH.
in the vein of the recent “shit X people say to Y people” meme, there is a “Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” PSA video for International Anti-Street Harassment Week. if you have a friend who does this to women, make him watch it.
after all that, i needed a beer. so jay picked me up at west oakland and we went to the Trappist and had a couple nice dark microbrews.
another rabbithole complete.
doorway at 19th and Mission, taken yesterdayFiled in art, autobiographical, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, pain management | Comment (0)
i am excited to be in two locally made and produced fashion shows in the next week:
this saturday 2/11, Opel’s 10-year anniversary party @mezzanineSF (aww….so many SF music collectives are entering their tweens!) with a hot fashion show featuring two of my SF faves, Tamo and Silver Lucy .
Alexandria von Bromssen, Jasmin Zorlu, Amy Fink, Tamo Design, Miranda Caroligne, Kathleen van der Spek, My Dirty Dishes, Josie Adele, Benzo Couture, Velvet and Horns, Bradley D. Jordan & Danielle Petty will have their lingerie & fashion show, with live music from the Goldenhearts and a special appearance by performance artist Bad Unkl Sista.
last night we went to see our (awesome!!!) friend Mary Franck’s conceptual-performance piece, Permutae.
i had so many millions of things to say while sitting in that dark theatre, and now i barely recall all of the places my mind went.
i don’t know why i resist loving conceptual art so much. i think it’s because i can’t actually articulate why, and so when, afterward, i say “i absolutely loved it” and someone asks “why?” i feel suddenly unprepared, embarrassed to explain. why do bodies moving absurdly through abstract scapes to nonmelodic sounds cause my self to dissolve? the body as vocabulary, skin as an instrument: this speaks to me.
all i know is that not long after the performance started i realized that almost my entire body was moving also, while most of the rest of the audience sat still, the man next to me fully asleep. not only do i enjoy watching, i uncontrollably want to be doing what they are doing.
i have an artist ticket to burning man this year, from doing butoh with BadUnklSista for BRAF and such. it makes me feel odd as i still do not describe or consider myself an artist. but i think that i might do a solo butoh piece somewhere on the playa. i will not tell anyone when or where.
Filed in art, burning man, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
the November 2010 issue of French Vogue has a section on Burning Man (bm-vogue-pdf), which is exciting for many reasons, but particularly since there is, not in the main article (which does feature art by other friends!) but in another section, a photo of our Bad Unkl Sista butoh crew during our white procession at the Temple at dawn on Thursday.
L to R: Kyle Hailey, Myana, Calli Beck, Orange, Wanda, Yaella
what you’re seeing is part of a full circle of 16 people. i’m only a leeetle sad that all you can see of me is a slight bit of profile standing on the far, far left, next to/behind Kyle, but *so excited* that as a group we made it into F*ING FRENCH VOGUE. since i’m pretty sure i will never get this close to being in Vogue again, and since i am technically in this photo, i’ll count this as it.Filed in burning man, fashion, friends, photos | Tagged with badunklsista, NaBloPoMo, strikeapose | Comments (3)